prescription pills spilling on an American flag Stuart Ritchie/iStock/Thinkstock

USDA targets funds for addressing opioid misuse

USDA reserving $5 million in Community Facilities Grant Program and giving priority to Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant Program.

Assistant to the secretary for rural development Anne Hazlett announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving funding priority in two key grant programs to address opioid misuse in rural communities.

“The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country,” Hazlett said. “With this focused investment, we are targeting our resources to be a strong partner to rural communities in building an effective local response to this significant challenge.”

USDA is reserving $5 million in the Community Facilities Grant Program and is giving priority to Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant (DLT) Program applications proposing innovative projects to address the opioid epidemic in rural communities.

In the Community Facilities Grant Program, rural communities, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribes can apply through the usual Community Facilities Grant application process for grants up to $150,000 for innovative projects such as mobile treatment clinics. Community Facilities grants may fund up to 75% of an eligible project.

DLT Program applicants will receive priority for telemedicine projects with the primary purpose of providing opioid prevention, treatment or recovery services. Eligible proposals can receive 10 priority points on their applications.

Funding for both programs was made available through the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill. The funding comes at a time when the Trump Administration is pursuing an ambitious agenda to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

Applications for Community Facilities grants funded with this national office reserve should be submitted by June 4, 2018. Applications will be accepted at the Rural Development office in the state in which the applicant is located. Applications submitted after this date will be considered for regular, state-allocated funding.

The application deadline for DLT Program grants is June 4, 2018. Applications can be submitted electronically at Grants.gov or in hardcopy to: USDA Rural Development Telecommunications Programs, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2844, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597.

The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that nearly 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 and that more than half of those deaths involved opioids, including prescription drugs and heroin.

USDA is an important partner to rural communities addressing this national emergency. The department is investing in treatment facilities and services, e-connectivity and telemedicine and public education efforts. In addition to program investment, USDA is helping communities share information about best practices to address the crisis. Visit USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse webpage for more information.

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