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

Farm groups launch campaign to assist in rural opioid crisis

Farm Town Strong to raise awareness of impact opioid epidemic crisis has on farming communities.

As farming communities face mounting challenges with the opioid epidemic, the nation’s two largest general farm organizations are teaming up to confront the issue. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) announced a new campaign, “Farm Town Strong,” to raise awareness of how the crisis is affecting farming communities. The campaign will also provide resources and information to help farm communities and encourage farmer-to-farmer support to overcome the crisis.

The groups have launched a new website, FarmTownStrong.org, to provide easy access to information and resources that can help struggling farm families and rural communities.

The Farm Town Strong campaign comes on the heels of a recent survey commissioned by AFBF and NFU that highlighted how the opioid epidemic has hit farmers and farm workers especially hard. While just under half of rural Americans say they, a family member or a friend have been directly affected by opioid addiction, that number rises to 74% for farmers and farm workers. A strong majority of respondents also support increasing public awareness of anti-opioid resources and reducing the stigma that surrounds addiction to help solve the opioid crisis.

“Farm country has been hit hard by the opioid crisis – even harder than rural America as a whole or big cities,” AFBF president Zippy Duvall said. “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,” NFU president Roger Johnson said. “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.”

The two organizations will also hold public events and launch a social media campaign, #FarmTownStrong, to highlight the crisis and share resources. Duvall and Johnson will lead a discussion on overcoming the opioid crisis on Jan. 8 at the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.

More information on the campaign can be found at FarmTownStrong.org.

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