USDA announces opioid resource website

By Justin Walker

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a website focused on delivering resources to help with the opioid crisis.

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett unveiled the site, which the agency hopes will help rural communities with the issue.

“While no corner of the country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, small towns and rural places have been particularly hard hit,” Hazlett said. “The challenge of opioid misuse is an issue of rural prosperity and will take all hands on deck to address.”

An estimated 63,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. More than half of those involved opioids.

The USDA, as well as other agricultural organizations, is playing a crucial role in rural communities as the nation address this problem.

Earlier this year, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) launched a joint campaign, “Farm Town Strong,” focused on the opioid crisis in rural communities.

“Farm country has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic—even harder than rural America as a whole, or big cities,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said at the time of the campaign launch. “It’s going to take everyone working together to combat this crisis to make a difference. That’s why Farm Bureau and Farmers Union are teaming up to show unity on this issue and encourage farm families to help their neighbors. If you or a family member has been affected by opioid addiction, it’s important to talk about it so that others will know they are not fighting this alone.”

NFU President Roger Johnson mirrored Duvall’s message, stressing that ignoring the problem is not an option any longer.

“Opioid addiction—along with all of its consequences—is a silent, but very real, crisis for our farming communities,” NFU President Roger Johnson said. “The lack of services, treatment and support exacerbates the issue in rural areas, and the negative stigma associated with addiction makes it hard for farmers to discuss the problem. Too often, those struggling with addiction and their family members don’t seek the support they need. Through the Farm Town Strong campaign, we’re tackling this crisis head-on by encouraging more dialogue, more information sharing and more farmer-to-farmer engagement.”

The USDA site can be found here. The “Farm Town Strong” site can be found here.

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