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Adressing opioid abuse in rural communities

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adding resources to help rural communities respond to the opioid crisis.

Annette Sweeney serves as director of the Rural Development, in Iowa. Sweeney says USDA is ready to help rural Iowans battle opioid abuse.

“Let’s get to the heart of the matter in order to help. Rural development is there to help with the facilities, in order to be able to really address this.”

USDA launched a new website (www.usda.gov/topicss/opioidsto provide rural leaders  resources, information and best practices. This information is designed to help rural communities respond to and manage the crisis.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Farmers Union (NFU) report three-in-four farmers have directly been impacted by opioid abuse. Furthermore, the National Center for Health estimates more than 30,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016.

Sweeney says farm groups also join the fight against opioid abuse. Farm groups reach out to farm families impacted by this epidemic through a campaign called “Farm Town Strong.”

“Farm Town Strong is a way for our applicants from the rural facilities we help out to go to those, get the hotline numbers and ask, ‘Okay, how can we then implement that within our structures and with our community facilities to be able to help individuals?”

United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in January released a rural prosperity task force. Sweeney says the report outlined a need for quality of life, such as decent internet connection and better educated facilities, in rural areas.
“They really hit upon the quality of life in our rural areas and rural prosperity. And we can’t have that quality of life and rural prosperity unless we understand some of the situations that are going on with our rural communities. And so it’s really hitting upon, let’s look at the opiod crisis, let’s look at e-connectivity that we want people to be able to continue their lives and even make them better.”