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USDA to Host Discussions on Opioid Abuse in Rural Areas

Staff reports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this month will begin hosting a series roundtable discussions to better understand what rural communities need to address opioid misuse.

“The opioid epidemic in rural communities is more than a public health issue,” said Anne Hazlett with USDA Rural Development. “This is a matter of rural prosperity. Opioid misuse is impacting the quality of life and economic well-being in small towns, which is why partnering with rural leaders to address this crisis is critical to the future of rural America.”

Key topics will include challenges associated with substance use disorder; strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery; and how these measures can be replicated to effectively address the epidemic in other rural communities.

Roundtables will be held March 14 in Pennsylvania; April 11 in Utah; May 9 in Kentucky; June 6 in Oklahoma; and July 11 in Maine.

To be notified of roundtable event specifics as they become available, subscribe to receive email updates from USDA on rural opioid misuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2016 nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. An overwhelming majority of these overdose deaths involved an opioid.

“The opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard,” a USDA news release said.

USDA is committed to being a partner to rural communities to address substance use disorder at the local level through program investment, strategic partnerships and best practice implementation, the release added.

For more information,  go to USDA’s opioid misuse in rural America webpage.

A task force on agriculture and rural prosperity recently “found that improved access to mental and behavioral health care, particularly prevention, treatment and recovery resources, is vital to addressing the opioid crisis and other substance misuse in rural communities.”

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet e-Connectivity in rural areas. For more information, visit

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