U.S. Senator Roger Marshall joins RFD-TV to discuss Ag Mental Health Campaign

Nashville, TN – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. joined RFD-TV live in studio to discuss his Ag Mental Health Awareness Campaign, which is intended to bring attention to the mental health resources that are available to farmers, ranchers, and our rural communities. Senator Marshall also gave an update on the 2023 Farm Bill, his Ending Agriculture Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, legislative efforts to improve rural broadband, and foreign ownership of American farmland.

Working in agriculture presents unique challenges and stressors that can contribute to poor mental health outcomes in rural Kansas communities. Senator Marshall’s campaign is highlighting how Kansans can recognize someone in need of support and where to turn for help. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or contemplating suicide, 9-8-8 is the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The average wait time to be connected in Kansas is less than 21 seconds.  

You may click HERE or on the image above to watch Senator Marshall’s full interview. 

Highlights from the interview include:

On Ag Mental Health: 

“Our farmers and ranchers are under more stress today than they’ve ever been, perhaps the worst economic year that they’ve ever had. On top of that we have drought, inflation is just driving up the cost of doing business, the cost of diesel fuel, the cost of fertilizer as well. And farmers and ranchers have a three and a half times higher suicide rate than any other profession. So I just want our farmers and ranchers to know that I’m there for them, that you, that RFD-TV is here for them, that they can call 988 if they are having thoughts of taking their own life, a behavioral health specialist is going to talk with them. That’s 988, you can text 988 as well.”

On the 2023 Farm Bill:

“It’s time to put the farm back in the Farm Bill. Look, the food programs are going to compose at least 80% of this Farm Bill. They have mandatory spending, so they’re taken care of. We want to bring the farm back and look, the backbone of every farm bill should be crop insurance and title one funding. So we’re wanting more funding for reference prices.”

“We talked about the stressors in agriculture, and why that suicide rate is so high for farmers and ranchers, it’s because the stress is real…Average operation loan in Kansas for a farm rancher may be a million dollars. So you went from 2% to nine and 10% interest on that operation loan. That was your entire profit. Of course, we’re seeing diesel fuel prices go up, fertilizer prices going up as well. So that reference price needs to reflect the cost of doing business.”

On his EATS Act, Legislation to Protect Kansas Producers from California Regulation:

“Proposition 12 is an attack on state rights. Proposition 12 wants to tell farmers and ranchers in Kansas, Iowa, Texas, across the nation, how to grow sows, how to raise cattle, how to plant corn, they want to tell us eventually how to drill oil as well. So this is a pushback protecting our state’s rights. 

“Proposition 12 was led by animal activists, and one thing I’m begging your listeners to do is to get out there and tell our story, how much we care about the livestock that we’re raising. I just did the the State Fair recently in Hutchinson, Kansas, there were young folks, they’ve been part of FFA [Future Farmers of America], part of 4-H, showing their lamb showing, their cattle, their steers as well, we need to share that story of how compassionate we truly are with our livestock, and that we want to take good care of them as well.” 

“Proposition 12 would help the great big packing companies. As we all know, China dominates that market when they own one of the biggest pork producer pork packers in the world as well. So they can respond to all these rules and regulations, they can make a different set of rules for how they’re going to raise sows to send to California versus sending them to the East Coast.

On Expanding Access to Rural Broadband:

“I’m proud of what we’ve done in the last Farm Bill in 2018. We’ve increased access, it’s not perfect, but I think we’ve learned from some of our mistakes.”

“We have a couple new prerequisites, we’re going to spell out the speed that we need, but additionally what local providers have put in – we don’t want someone from out of state to come in and put in a cheap infrastructure like this that doesn’t really go to where it needs to go, doubling where it’s already been as well

“We’ve got to keep working on the map. Some of the great big providers constantly say that they have service when we really don’t, so Kansas Farm Bureau and others are leading to make sure we get an accurate map on where to put the new high speed internet.”

On Foreign Ownership of American Farmland.

“We are concerned about the amount of purchasing from foreign governments, especially governments that are our adversaries. Now, let’s just face it right now, that China is an adversary to the United States in so many ways. And it’s not just buying land. It’s the whole vertical integration that we’re worried about as well in the food processing. So China again, like we said earlier, so much dominated the pork industry, I would sure hate to have them come in and start dominating the packing industry, whether it’s beef or chickens.”