Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced USDA is hosting a series of monthly roundtables on opioids through the summer. One of the five roundtables is scheduled to take place in Kentucky during May, and will focus on the impact of the crisis and developing an effective response.
“Working on solutions to the opioid crisis in Kentucky is critical to improving quality of life and increasing economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth,” said Hilda Legg, State Director for USDA Rural Development in Kentucky. “The May roundtable in Kentucky demonstrates the dedication of the Trump administration to collaborate with local partners and work together to address the epidemic across rural Kentucky.”
Beginning this month, Hazlett will convene regional roundtables to bring together partners in five states to raise awareness and better understand what support rural communities need to address opioid misuse. 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.
On May 9th, Hazlett will meet with community partners in Kentucky to better understand the role Rural Development can play in locally combatting the major crisis. In 2016, there were 1,419 drug overdose deaths in Kentucky. From 2015 to 2016, the overdose percentage increased by 12 percent in the Commonwealth, and Kentucky is listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the highest number of vulnerable counties in the nation at 54 counties.
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The CDC estimates that in 2016 nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. An overwhelming majority of these overdose deaths involved an opioid. At 174 people each day, this is more than the number of lives lost in car accidents or gun-related homicides. While no corner of the country has gone untouched by this issue, the opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard.
USDA is committed to being a partner to rural communities to address substance misuse disorder at the local level through program investment, strategic partnerships and best practice implementation. For more information, go to USDA’s opioid misuse in rural America webpage.
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.
In the area of quality of life, the Task Force included a recommendation to modernize health care access. The report highlighted the importance of telemedicine in enhancing access to primary care and specialty providers. The Task Force also 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 (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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet e-Connectivity in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.