The two largest general farm organizations have joined forces in an effort to fight the growing opioid addiction problem in rural America. The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union today announced “Farm Town Strong,” a joint effort to raise awareness of the opioid problem and provide resources for rural communities.
The two organizations commissioned a survey of both farmers and non-farmers on the impact of opioids on rural communities that paints a disturbing picture of the grip the pain medications have on small towns and farms. According to the survey data, 74 percent of farmers and farm workers reported they, a family member or friend has been directly impacted by opioid addiction. And while nearly 75 percent of farmers said it would be easy to access opioids in their communities, only one in three reported easy access to addiction treatment.
“Farm country has been hit hard by the opioid crisis – even harder than rural America as a whole, or big cities,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvallin a press release. “It’s going to take everyone working together to combat this crisis to make a difference. That’s why Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union are teaming up to show unity on this issue and encourage farm families to help their neighbors. If you or a family member has been affected by opioid addiction, it’s important to talk about it so that others will know they are not fighting this alone.”
“Opioid addiction—along with all of its consequences—is a silent, but very real, crisis for our farming communities,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The lack of services, treatment and support exacerbates the issue in rural areas, and the negative stigma associated with addiction makes it hard for farmers to discuss the problem. Too often, those struggling with addiction and their family members don’t seek the support they need. Through the Farm Town Strong campaign, we’re tackling this crisis head-on by encouraging more dialogue, more information sharing, and more farmer-to-farmer engagement.”
Duvall and Johnson will lead a session on overcoming the opioid crisis at the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention in Nashville next week. The two groups have launched a companion website at FarmTownStrong.org and will be communicating in social media under #FarmTownStrong.