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Senator Raphael Warnock supports Georgia farmers on mental health

He says on a scale of 1 to 5, farmers on average rank their stress level as 4.

MUSELLA, Ga. — Senator Raphael Warnock visited Dickey Farms Tuesday to talk about protecting the mental health of farmers. He says on a scale of 1 to 5, farmers on average rank their stress level as 4. Senator Warnock says bringing awareness to mental health helps chip away at the stigma. He says mental health care is health care. 

"We don't stigmatize someone if they're having trouble with their heart or their liver. The brain is an organ," Warnock said. 

Will Bentley, a cattle farmer from Upson County, says with costs going up and end product staying the same, it's been really hard on folks in the industry.

 "We can't control the price. We can't control the price of our inputs. We also can't control the price of our final product," Bentley said. 

Bentley says fertilizer, gas, equipment, transportation, and labor have also increased adding to farmers' stress.

"The pandemic's been going on for several years, and now we are seeing other crisis' in Europe and Russia that are putting more stressors in the agriculture community in the State of Georgia," Bentley said. 

Senator Raphael Warnock pushed to secure $10 million to support "the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network." The program helps connect farmers to stress resources. Warnock says some of the things he kept hearing from the farmers at his roundtable discussion was farming needs to become more profitable.

"From a public policy standpoint, we'll be doing everything we can. I will be doing everything I can as a member of the agriculture committee to give Georgia farmers the support that they need," Warnock said. 

Bentley says what he ultimately hopes for from Tuesday's event is the voices of farmers are heard.

"It puts a lot of stress on the individual. If you're a farmer, and all your costs are going up but your end product is not. It's really going to be something that's really hard to deal with," Bentley said. 

 "I think we need to try to find ways to incentivize mental health care support right here on the ground within these communities," Warnock said. 

Another thing Warnock added to making farming profitable is to make it easier for farmers to be able to pass on their farms from generation to generation. Senator Warnock says he wants to do everything he can to open up supply chains to help drive down price in turn, hopefully driving down the stress for Georgia farmers.


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