WASHINGTON — With unanimous approval, US Senators passed a resolution to designate May 29 as Mental Health Awareness in Agriculture Day.

According to the National Rural Health Association, the suicide rate among farmers is 3.5 times higher than that of the general population. 

Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) led the effort in Congress.

“From unpredictable weather to volatile markets and trade agreements, the livelihood of Nebraska’s agricultural producers and workforce depend on several factors beyond their control,” Fischer said. “This uncertainty, paired with extreme stress, leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression. Our resolution recognizes those unique challenges and supports the farmers, ranchers, and workers who perform the essential work of producing high quality food, fuel, and fiber.”

Bennet added that unprecedented challenges are taking a toll on the mental health of Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and farm workers, which include severe drought and increased costs. 

In recent years, Bennet and others have advocated for increasing awareness and supporting mental health care in farming communities, which included the introduction of the Farmer’s First Act of 2023. This bipartisan bill would help connect farmers with valuable mental health resources and increase funding for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN).

Other organizations supporting the efforts include The National Rural Health Association, Nebraska Rural Health Association, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Farmers Union, and National Farmers Union.

“Mental Health Awareness Month serves as an important reminder that we need to check in with ourselves and check up on each other,” said Zippy Duvall, president of AFBF. “Farming and ranching is a stressful business that is full of uncertainty, which is why at AFBF we’re proud to offer resources through our Farm State of Mind campaign. I’m grateful for Senator Fischer’s leadership in working to designate a specific day during this month to bring focus to the unique challenges of the agricultural community. It’s important for all of us to remember that a healthy farm or ranch is nothing without a healthy farmer or rancher.”