USDA Prioritizes Investments to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America

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USDA Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann highlighted today key efforts by the department to address opioid misuse in rural communities.

    “Opioid misuse has led to a dramatic decrease in quality of life, especially in rural areas where access to resources may be more limited,” said Vann. “We are working hard to bring all of our assets to the table in partnership with local efforts to help combat this epidemic where it is needed most.”

   USDA is reserving $5 million in the Community Facilities Grant Program for innovative projects such as mobile treatment clinics. Rural communities, non-profit organizations and federally recognized tribes can apply for grants up to $150,000.  Applications for Community Facilities grants funded with this National Office reserve should be submitted on or before June 4, 2018.

   Priority is also available in the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program for applications proposing innovative projects with the primary purpose of providing opioid prevention, treatment or recovery services. Eligible proposals can receive 10 priority points on their applications.

   The Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill included $20 million available in the DLT Grant Program for projects that will help rural communities fight the opioid epidemic. This funding is in addition to $29 million Congress provided for the program in the annual budget.

   The application deadline for DLT Grants is June 4, 2018. Applications can be submitted electronically at or in hardcopy to: USDA Rural Development Telecommunications Programs, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 2844, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597. Complete details are available on page 14245 in the April 3 Federal Register.

   The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that nearly 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. More than half of those deaths involved opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin.

    In early 2018 the Institute for Telehealth was awarded a $325,665 DLT grant to purchase video conferencing equipment to provide interactive telemedicine services. The hub site is based in Placer County and impacts 32 rural sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. This technology will allow hospital, medical clinics and nursing homes to communicate with specialists they may not have had available through traditional avenues.

   USDA is an important partner to rural communities addressing the national opioid epidemic. The Department is investing in treatment facilities and services, e-Connectivity and telemedicine, and public education efforts. In addition to program investment, USDA is helping communities share information about best practices to address the crisis. Visit USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse webpage for more information.

   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 access in rural areas. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CaliforniaRD.

Last Modified: 04/04/2018