Minnesota State Representative Jeff Brand (19A)

(Mankato, MN) – A St. Peter lawmaker is accusing the state Senate of using crucial mental health funding for farmers as a bargaining chip.

Representative Jeff Brand (D-19A) says that House file 232  would allocate funds to provide resources for mental health services for farmers.  “This is money that was already pre-budgeted through funding through the Department of Agriculture,” said Brand. “It’s been re-allocated to a different purpose now because we realize this is a crisis.”

Resources allocated through HF 232 would help create more resources for Ted Matthews, a 71-year-old psychologist who travels the state of Minnesota to counsel despondent farmers.  The estimated $100,000 in funds could possibly be used towards  a new hire to go around the state and provide what Brand calls “timely, important resources.”

The House passed 232 on March 4th, but Brand said it’s since been sitting in the Senate for three weeks with no movement or discussion.

“It sounds like it’s going to be used as a bargaining chip,” said Brand.  “And I am disgusted to hear that news.  I’m hopeful that it’s not the case, and I’m hopeful we can move this forward.”

Brand believes that the Senate will lump H232 in with another bill that may not pass the Senate or be vetoed by Governor Walz, instead of voting on a clean bill.

“This should have been done a month ago,” said Brand.  “There’s no excuse for it.  That’s inappropriate, that’s immoral, and that’s the wrong thing to do if you’re representing people in the rural area.”

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