Legislature’s finance committee releases $200K for farmer mental health

The Legislature’s finance committee is releasing $200,000 to help farmers deal with mental health problems.

More farmers are grappling with mental health issues as the industry shifts to factory farm models, milk prices continue to fall and President Donald Trump’s trade war intensifies.

The Joint Finance Committee included $200,000 in the state budget to help farmers but didn’t authorize the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to spend it.

DATCP Secretary Brad Pfaff (PAFF) asked the committee Wednesday to release the money. He says the department wants to use it for counseling vouchers, stress management workshops for farmers and teaching mental health providers about farmers’ challenges.

Committee Republicans chastised Pfaff for remarking in July that the panel had abandoned farmers because it didn’t release the money during a meeting that month. They accused him of playing politics.

Ultimately the committee voted 16-0 to release the money.

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