USDA to Sponsor Roundtables on Rural Opioid Crisis

From now until July, the USDA is holding a series of four community roundtables on the opioid crisis in rural America. (Photo By: Stuart Ritchie/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sponsoring a series of community roundtables on rural opioid misuse for leaders and practitioners to exchange ideas on the impact and effective responses.

Four more roundtables are scheduled this year: April 11 in Utah; May 9 in Kentucky; June 6 in Oklahoma; and July 11 in Maine. The first roundtable was March 14 in Pennsylvania.

“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,” said Anne Hazlett, assistant to the secretary for rural development at the USDA.

An estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in 2016, nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, with an overwhelming majority of deaths involving opioids.

The roundtables are USDA’s latest resource for rural communities to fight opioid abuse. In February, the agency launched the Opioid Misuse in Rural America website.

Modernizing health care access is one of 31 recommendations in the report from the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to President Trump. In addition to telemedicine, the task force found that improved access to mental and behavioral health care, particularly drug prevention, treatment and recovery, is vital to battling opioid addiction in rural communities.

To learn more about the roundtables, contact Betty-Ann Bryce, senior policy adviser for the assistant to the secretary for rural development: