Senator Warnock, other state leaders meet with farmers to discuss mental health

"The price of a cotton picker is over $1 million now, but cotton is relatively the same price as it's been for the last 40 or 50 years," President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council Will Bentley said. "When you do that math, there's no way for a small producer to really survive."
Round table discussion farmers mental health

MUSELLA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Farming isn’t as simple as it used to be.

Will Bentley, President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, says there’s lots of stress involved in the occupation these days. One example he gave was the price of cotton versus how much it costs to harvest it.

“The price of a cotton picker is over $1 million now, but cotton is relatively the same price as it’s been for the last 40 or 50 years,” he said. “When you do that math, there’s no way for a small producer to really survive.”

Bentley was one of the many Georgia farmers who met with Senator Raphael Warnock, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Jewel Bronaugh and State Representative Robert Dickey Tuesday for a round table discussion on farm stress and mental health. He’s hoping leaders will find concrete solutions for the problems farmers face.

“Hopefully they’ll take that back to Washington, and there will be some kind of common sense approach,” he said. “A lot of times, D.C. will throw money at things, but we need more than just money to be thrown at a problem. We need some long-term solutions.”

Senator Warnock says natural disasters and the pandemic have exacerbated the stresses of farming. He says one story stood out to him Tuesday.

“I was struck by one woman who said her son came home from the University of Georgia for the summer, and he was saying, ‘This is too hard.’ I want that family to pass on their farm to the next generation,” he said.

Bentley says farmers have been aware of the stresses they face for many years now and he hopes some of the things discussed during the round table will make their way to mental health policies.

“We’re glad to see that folks in Washington are paying attention,” he said. “We’ve discussed it for a long time. Hopefully they’ll try to find some solutions, beecause mental health is something we take serious.”

Senator Warnock says mental health is as important as physical health. He says he’s working on getting more mental health resources to rural communities.

“We were able to get $10 million in additional support for a network to support our farmers and our ranchers,” he said. “As I go back to D.C., I’ll be focusing on bringing more people the resources they need.”

Senator Warnock says in addition to the physical resources, he’s focusing on bringing telehealth to rural farming communities.

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