Sen. Faraci and Sen.Turner

DECATUR – As strong advocates of Illinois’ agriculture industry, State Senators Paul Faraci and Doris Turner joined state officials and agriculture leaders at the 2023 Farm Progress Show to support increasing across to mental health services for rural farmers and agriculture communities.

“Mental health affects people from all professions — especially farmers whose job, success and livelihood relies on many things out of their control,” said Turner (D-Springfield), chair of the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee. “Together, we can uplift the health and well-being of some of our state’s hardest working individuals.”

Initiated through the legislative leadership of Former Champaign State Senator Scott Bennett, the Farm Family Resource Initiative started as a joint pilot program of SIU School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2019. It originated as a pilot program covering six Illinois counties providing telehealth mental health access in addition to a helpline. Following its overwhelming success, the FFRI was expanded to cover all 102 counties in the state. In addition to the telehealth helpline, family members can now access six free telehealth mental health sessions.

The program will fund up to 20 grants at $1,000 each to support FFA chapters implementing local initiatives encouraging access to mental health resources. Grants will be used to increase awareness of mental health and wellness in schools and communities across Illinois. All FFA chapters in Illinois are eligible to apply for the grant. Applications will be available from the Illinois FFA Foundation in fall 2023.

Faraci pledges to continue Bennett’s advocacy of this vital program and partner with the Illinois Department of Agriculture on expanding accessibility to farmers across the state.

“The FFRI program is a proven success and has given farmers an opportunity to talk about their struggles,” said Faraci (D-Champaign). “I am honored to advocate for this lifesaving program and pay tribute to the work my friend, State Senator Scott Bennett started. It is important to remember it is okay to ask for help, especially when it comes to mental health." 

The Farmer Assistance Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-833-FARM-SOS.