Sometimes, living in the country isn’t all it’s romanticized to be. It’s hard work and that takes a toll on the body. It can be dangerous, especially when working around large animals. Combine those factors and others, and pain can be a constant companion for ranchers and farmers.
Perhaps that’s why the opioid epidemic is particularly pronounced in rural areas. Whatever the reason, the opioid epidemic is real and troubling in rural America.
That’s where a new interactive map developed by USDA may become indispensable. The new interactive feature can be found on the USDA rural opioid misuse webpage. Webpage visitors can use an interactive map to learn about, access or replicate actions rural leaders are taking in small towns across the country to address the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment and recovery opportunities. View the interactive map here.
“Leaving no community untouched, the opioid epidemic has taken a monumental toll on many of the small towns and rural places that are the heartbeat of our country,” said Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. “USDA is a strong partner to rural leaders in addressing this issue through programs for prevention, treatment and recovery, as well as programs that build rural resilience and prosperity for the future.”
USDA collected model practices displayed on the interactive map from regional opioid misuse roundtables and through the “What’s working in your town?” form on the USDA opioid misuse webpage. USDA invites you to share effective actions taken in response to the opioid epidemic in rural communities by filling out the “What’s working in your town?” form.
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, which 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.