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USDA roundtables: Opioid crisis “a matter of rural prosperity”

Anne Hazlett on NFU opioid panel with AFBF

The USDA is holding roundtable discussions with regional partners to raise awareness and understanding of how to address the opioid epidemic in rural America Anne Hazlett, “We believe that this issue of addiction in rural communities is more than a health issue. This is a matter of rural prosperity.”

Anne Hazlett, the Assistant to the Secretary for USDA Rural Development, told reporters they’ve selected five states where there has been a rise in overdose deaths in recent years. The first roundtable is in Pennsylvania today, “Pennsylvania, for example, in 2016,” she said, “Was in the top five with the highest rate of death with the highest rate of death due to drug overdose.” The others will be held from April through July, in Utah, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Maine.

Hazlett says the USDA is working on identifying its resources in the next Farm Bill that could be used toward further helping relieve the opioid epidemic. Three rural development grant programs are now available for assistance.

In 2016, Ohio had the second highest rates of death from drug overdose behind West Virginia and ahead of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, in that order.

The CDC says significant increases in overdose deaths were seen between 2015 and ’16 in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and, Wisconsin, among several dozen states in the Northeast, Midwest and South Census regions.

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