The National Farmers Union (NFU) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) this week joined together to address a rural issue bigger than all of their resources combined. The issue was not in regards to trade or regulation. It was in regards to opioids and their impact on farmers and farm workers.
NFU president Roger Johnson and AFBF president Zippy Duval spoke about the rural health crisis caused by the abuse of opioid painkillers.
The two farm organizations, along with the United States Department of Agriculture, released a survey which showed 74% of farmers and farm workers claim to have be directly impacted by opioid abuse. Johnson says the first step in solving a problem is understanding the problem.
“Let’s get the problem out there,” Johnson said. “Then, at the same time, lead folks with the impression that it’s not all dire and there’s a way to resolve it. Zippy and I understand rural communities come together well in the face of tragedy. We think that’s the solution.”
“We’ve put this website up, we’re doing a public relations (PR) campaign and looking for other partners to come into this to spread the word. We’re in the early stages of it, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m hopeful that it will go nationwide and becomes a major topic of conversation in a lot of the communities because that’s what needs to happen,” Johnson said.
The two groups have created Farm Town Strong, an effort to address and combat opioid addiction in rural America. The website is www.FarmTownStrong.org.