PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS ENDORSES BILL TO IMPROVE RURAL HEALTH CARE

February 25, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, February 25, 2020, the Problem Solvers Caucus formally endorsed the bipartisan Seeding Rural Resilience Act, which will improve mental health care and stress management in rural communities.

Problem Solvers, Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY-22) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24) are leading the effort in the House of Representatives and brought the bill to the caucus for endorsement. The legislation received the caucus’ endorsement when at least 75 percent of the 48-member caucus agreed to support the bill.

“Too many folks in farming families we care about face isolation, long travel times to access health care, and lack of adequate resources and support. This is not fair, said Problem Solvers Co-Chair, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23). “But this does not have to be our reality.  I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in endorsing the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, which will help our neighbors living in rural areas know about the tools and resources available to assist them.”

"The Problem Solvers Caucus is proud to endorse this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help combat the growing mental health crisis taking place in rural communities in New Jersey's Fifth District and throughout our country," said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair, Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5). "With both sides of the aisle coming together, we'll be able to do more to help farming families in North Jersey, combat rising suicide rates in rural America, and boost resources and support for mental health care."

“I am thrilled the Problem Solvers Caucus has endorsed my Seeding Rural Resilience Act,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi. “Whether it’s low prices, a trade war, or Mother Nature, much of a farmer’s bottom line is out of their control, and that uncertainty can add to daily stresses. Our bill will help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in our rural communities and ensure all farmers have better access to mental health care. Mental health for our farmers and in our rural communities needs to be above party politics and I am hopeful we can get this bill done.”

“I am proud that the Problem Solvers Caucus has endorsed the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, bipartisan legislation I introduced alongside Reps. Brindisi and Craig to improve mental healthcare for farming families,” said Rep. John Katko. “With the current rate of suicide in rural communities 45% higher than it is in urban areas, this legislation will improve awareness of mental illness in rural areas and expand access to quality mental healthcare by establishing suicide prevention training programs in rural communities. I thank the Problem Solvers Caucus for supporting this measure and look forward to continuing our work to pass meaningful and bipartisan legislation to improve mental healthcare for our nation’s rural communities.”

“In Arizona, our farmers, ranchers, and agriculture producers grow some of the world’s finest cotton, lettuce, and alfalfa, and work tirelessly to put food on the tables of American families,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran. “They deserve access to the highest quality mental health resources. I cosponsored the Seeing Rural Resilience Act to address the crisis of farmer suicide in America and bring further awareness to this public health crisis.”

“The challenges facing rural America seem to grow every day. The closure of hospitals, farm bankruptcy, and losing a way of life give many in rural America constant worry and stress, which can lead to mental health issues. Unfortunately, due to stigma and fear, people avoid getting the help they need before it is too late,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “Our farmers and ranchers feed us every day, and they deserve all the help we can provide them to relieve their stress. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure that rural America gets the mental health access they need.”

"Suicide prevention is incredibly important and personal to me—when I was young, my sister took her life with my father's gun. We have to step up and make sure that underserved rural areas have the services and resources to stop these preventable tragedies," said Rep. Salud Carbajal. "I'm proud to join my Problem Solvers colleagues in supporting the bipartisan Seeding Rural Resilience Act so that we can address the mental health crisis that exists in our rural communities and take action to improve mental health care nationwide."

“All Americans should have access to the mental health care they need, no matter where they live. However, over the past decade there has been a rapid increase of suicides in rural areas across the country,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “By implementing suicide prevention training programs and promoting awareness of mental illness in rural areas, the Seeding Rural Resilience Act will help reverse this troubling trend. I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in endorsing this important legislation to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in our nation’s rural communities and ensure that farmers have better access to mental health care.”

“The nationwide shortage of mental health providers hits rural communities especially hard,” said Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.  “An expansion of suicide prevention efforts to remote areas will help address the high suicide rates facing rural residents. In order to expand opportunity to every corner of our country, suicide prevention must be a top priority if we are to ensure rural communities are receiving the care they need.”

The Seeding Rural Resilience Act creates three initiatives aimed at curbing the growing rate of suicides in rural America:

• Provides USDA farmer-facing employees with voluntary training on stress detection and suicide prevention. This program will give employees who directly work with farmers the opportunity to develop skills that help them better support those struggling with mental health concerns.

• Authorizes a $3 million public awareness campaign promoting awareness of farm and ranch stress and destigmatizing mental health care in rural communities.

• Directs the Secretary to establish a task force of state, local, and federal agricultural and rural stakeholders to determine best practices to respond to farm and ranch mental stress.

This legislation is being led in the Senate by Senators Tester (D-MT) and Grassley (R-IA).

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The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising 48 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).