WASHINGTON — After a report found that farmers and agricultural workers see higher suicide rates than any other occupation, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is backing bipartisan legislation to provide Missouri farmers with stronger support and resources to respond to challenging and unpredictable economic circumstances.
“Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of Missouri’s economy, but with the threat of trade wars, unstable crop prices and unpredictable droughts, they’re too often under incredible stress that can lead to tragic outcomes,” McCaskill said. “In addition to making sure Missouri’s farmers and ranchers have a strong safety net and access to trade, we need to ensure they have access to the mental health resources that are often lacking in rural areas.”
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found agricultural workers have a higher suicide rate than any other occupation. To assist farmers in crisis, the bipartisan legislation would provide funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish helplines, provide suicide prevention training for farm advocates, create support groups and reestablish the previously eliminated Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.
In addition to these resources, the plan would establish a Farm and Ranch Stress Assessment Committee to better understand how farmers’ mental health impacts rural development and provide recommendations for addressing mental health care needs within the agriculture community.
McCaskill is a longtime advocate for Missouri farmers and ranchers and has fought to ensure they have access to international markets that they depend on for trade. After an announcement that China has proposed tariffs on $50 billion of American soybeans, pork, and beef, along with aircraft, trucks, and other goods in retaliation for the Trump Administration’s announcement it will place tariffs on Chinese goods, McCaskill called on the Administration to “scale back this escalating situation before it becomes a trade war that does nothing but slam some of Missouri’s most critical economic engines.”
Additionally, last November, McCaskill testified directly to the International Trade Commission on behalf of Missouri’s biodiesel companies that had been harmed because of unfair trade practices. The commission voted unanimously on the side of the soybean industry after McCaskill’s testimony. McCaskill has been honored six times with the National Farmers Union’s Golden Triangle Award for her long record of working to support Missouri’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.
Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/rural to learn more about McCaskill’s fight to protect rural Missouri.