The White House is out with a new plan for addressing drug addiction in rural areas, and farm group leaders are hopeful the news will lead to a better approach to dealing with issues like the opioid crisis. 

The Rural Community Action Guide announced Friday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy gives an overview of certain challenges rural communities face when it comes to addressing the downfalls of drug addiction around opioids and other illegal substances.

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the rates of drug overdose deaths rose in rural areas and surpassed those of urban areas.

The CDC noted states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose were West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and Kentucky.

The guide is comprised of five sections focusing on addiction, rural community impacts, prevention, treatment, and recovery.

“Families and communities in rural America have been hard hit by the crisis of addiction and face unique challenges in developing effective responses to this disease,” said Jim Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

A December 2017 survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union found some 74% of farmers have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis.

“Having access to information, whether it is on the law enforcement side, the prevention side, all of those things come together. This guide is going to help us — give us a chance to work together,” Dale Moore, executive vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, told Agri-Pulse.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson tells Agri-Pulse he is proud of the partnership to combat rural America’s drug addiction epidemic with Farm Bureau.

“You’ve heard the statistics; they are repeated in this report,” Johnson said. “When three-fourths of the farmers in this country have been impacted in some fashion or another, you know this is an issue needing to be dealt with.”

Both organizations, as well as 15 others along with USDA, helped contribute to the guide.

The guide was developed after the administration hosted rural roundtables in over a dozen states across the country hearing about lessons learned from past experiences.

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