Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett last week announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is giving funding priority in two key grant programs to address opioid misuse in rural communities. Residents and leaders in Nevada recently held a forum talking about the drug and opioid problems and about the resources in the local community.
“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 and 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 percent of an eligible project.
Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant 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 FY 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 on or before 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 Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants is June 4. 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. 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 web page for more information.
In April 2017, President Donald J. 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, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. In the area of quality of life, the Task Force included a recommendation to modernize health care access through innovative approaches like telemedicine. To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.