The White House announced that the President has directed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to lead an interagency effort focused on addressing challenges facing rural America, including heroin use and opioid abuse, increasing suicide rates, declining physical and mental health and heightened financial stress.
In this role, Vilsack will coordinate with federal agencies to develop policy solutions that build on ongoing work in these communities and nationally, draw on existing federal and state data and are informed by Administration officials working directly with affected rural areas. Combatting heroin use and opioid abuse is a priority the President has been focused on and remains committed to over the next year.
Vilsack will coordinate this work through his leadership of the White House Rural Council, established by the President in 2011 to address challenges in rural America and to build on the Administration's rural economic strategy. The council aims to streamline and improve the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural America, engage stakeholders on issues important to rural communities and coordinate private-sector partnerships to further job creation and economic development opportunities in rural areas.