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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Prenatal Health Care and Opioid Misuse Education Opportunities in Northwest Montana

Weldon Freeman
Release Date

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas including one impacting Northwest Montana.

“Montana faces an opioid-misuse crisis.  Through our telemedicine grants, USDA is a partner in addressing the crisis,” said Charles Robison, Montana State Director for USDA Rural Development. “Kalispell Regional Medical Center is pioneering new approaches to helping mothers address opioid misuse during pregnancy.  Together we are helping Montana moms and babies live better and healthier.  More than 17,000 Montanans will benefit from the Trump Administration’s investment with KRMC.  We at USDA appreciate the hospital’s partnership and we are looking for other partners to help us increase rural prosperity and extend distance learning and telemedicine to every corner of rural Montana.”

USDA is awarding a total of $39.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.

Below are summaries of one of USDA’s investments in rural Montana:

  • Kalispell Regional Medical Center is developing a telemedicine and distance learning project that will address the rising opioid epidemic. The project will utilize telemedicine and distance learning to address healthcare challenges in nine locations across five counties in Montana [Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, and Toole]. This program will target opioid-addicted mothers during pregnancy and follow them through safe labor and delivery in addition to targeting neonatal care of opioid addicted newborns. More than 17,000 residents are supported by this project.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

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 (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.