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Farmer Suicide Prevention Legislation Clears Assembly
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 11/11/2019

Legislation that would provide low income farmers with grant money to help get business management assistance has received unanimous approval in the Assembly. AB 524 is a proposal birthed from last summer's Speaker's Task Force on Suicide Prevention.

Chaired by Rep. Joan Ballweg of Markesan, the group was charged with evaluating current prevention efforts in the state and identifying opportunities to better support individuals who are struggling.

"In 2017, 918 individuals died by suicide in Wisconsin. When a life is lost to suicide, it is more than a single death. It devastates a family and an entire community," Ballweg said. "I believe these proposals take a much needed step toward decreasing this trend. I am proud to have bipartisan support on our initiatives."

The measure originally offered $10,000 in grants to low-income farmers who enrolled in a course on better farming techniques. That number was increased to $50,000 and was opened up to technical college courses, as well.

The bill would also educate firearms retailers on suicide prevention and would offer money to support peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs in high schools.

If approved by the Senate and Gov. Tony Evers, producers would be eligible to receive the scholarships at a rate of no more than $1,000 per year for up to three years.

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