USDA Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann recently highlighted a new webpage featuring resources to help rural communities respond to the opioid crisis.
“The opioid crisis has had a significant impact particularly on our rural communities, and California has seen firsthand the effects of this deadly epidemic,” Vann said. “As I continue engaging with California’s rural leaders on strategies to combat opioid abuse and improve rural prosperity, this new webpage will be another great resource in our mission.”
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than 63,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. More than half of those deaths involved opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin.
USDA is playing an important role to help rural communities address this national problem at the local level through program investment, strategic partnerships and best practice implementation.
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.
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 www.rd.usda.gov/ca or follow them on Twitter @CaliforniaRD.