Rural Opioid Epidemic
January 20, 2018
Written By Adam Buckallew
Survey Shows Massive Impact in Farm Country
The results of a survey recently published by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) shows farmers and ranchers have been hit significantly harder by the opioid crisis than rural populations overall.
While just under half of rural Americans say they have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, 74 percent of farmers and farm workers say they have. Three in four farmers say it would be easy for someone in their community to access opioids illegally, and just under half of rural adults – 46 percent – say the same. The poll, which was commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, is a first step in the groups’ collaboration on this issue.
“We’ve known for some time that opioid addiction is a serious problem in farm country, but numbers like these are heartbreaking,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Opioids have been too easy to come by and too easy to become addicted to. That’s why we are urging everyone we know to talk to their friends, family, co-workers—anyone at all they know or suspect needs help. And because opioid addiction is a disease, it’s up to all of us to help people who suffer from it and help them find the treatment they need. Government cannot and will not fix this on its own. Rural communities are strong. The strengths of our towns can overcome this crisis.”
“The opioid crisis is not just some talking point or abstract issue—it is an enormous challenge for both rural and urban America, and we as a country need to come to grips with it,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “These responses demonstrate the reach of the unrelenting and deadly crisis that is gripping farm families across the country. Farm and rural communities currently face major challenges in the fight against addiction, like access to services, treatment and support. Time and time again, farmers and ranchers have come together to help their families and their neighbors through challenging situations. That same resolve and compassion will help us break the grips of opioid addiction in rural America.”