USDA Launches Interactive Data Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis

USDA Launches Interactive Data Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis
New Community Assessment Tool Enables for the First Time an In-depth, County-by-County, Look at Impact of Opioid Epidemic across Entire United States

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural America in addressing this monumental challenge,” Hazlett said. “Local leaders in small towns across our country need access to user-friendly and relevant data to help them build grassroots solutions for prevention, treatment and recovery.”

The opioid misuse Community Assessment Tool enables users to overlay substance misuse data against socioeconomic, census and other public information. This data will help leaders, researchers and policymakers assess what actions will be most effective in addressing the opioid crisis at the local level.

USDA’s launch of the Community Assessment Tool closely follows President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Approximately 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017; 49,000 of those deaths involved an opioid. Many of these deaths have been fueled by the misuse of prescription pain medications. The severity of the current opioid misuse crisis requires immediate action.

Rural Development partnered with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC at the University of Chicago to create the Community Assessment Tool. NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business and policy decisions. Today, government, corporate and nonprofit organizations around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. The Walsh Center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural providers and residents, including healthcare quality and public health systems.

In April 2017, President Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, USDA Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings, which included thirty-one recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

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