Deputy USDA Secretary says farmer mental health funding still needed
Photo: (L-R) USDA Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh, Wisconsin Farmers Union President Rick Adamski, Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Kevin Krentz, Wisconsin FSA State Director Eugene Schriefer
The USDA Deputy Secretary told a Friday farmer mental health roundtable that rural mental health care funding remains a priority.
Jewel Bronaugh says USDA was fortunate to get funding in last farm bill they could use to help state ag departments establish farmer mental health networks. She tells Brownfield USDA is also providing farm business management tools through cooperative extension because much of the stress comes from financial pressures. “Our FSA programs, our FSA programs, our crop insurance programs, we’re trying to pull that together to provide some baseline of resources that really gets at the bottom of the financial stress.”
The Deputy Secretary says USDA is using Rural Development funding to update community facilities for mental health care and expanded broadband for telehealth. “We are providing that infrastructure through the Rural Development Program that is going to allow our mental health facilities to be able to provide those resources, the counseling resources and the other mental health resources that are so necessary.”
And, as Congress prepares for another farm bill, Bronaugh tells Brownfield USDA will keep letting Congress know where the needs are. “Here’s what we need those resources for, and here’s what we’re able to do with those resources if you get them to us, and if you get them to us, we’ll get those resources on the ground to the folks who need them.”
The Deputy Secretary participated in a farmer roundtable discussion Friday morning with U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Farmer Angel Network co-founder Randy Roecker, Wisconsin Farm Center supervisor Dan Bauer, and UW Extension outreach specialist Joy Kirkpatrick at the University of Wisconsin Arlington Ag Research Station.