FarmTownStrong, a campaign launched by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, seeks to address the rural opioid epidemic. Statistics show that in 2016, opioids were responsible for more than 42,000 deaths, more than the number of people who died from gun-related violence or motor vehicle accidents that year. AFBF’s Ray Atkinson explained in a recent Newsline that opioid addiction in rural farming areas is a major concern.

“Our country is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic,” Atkinson said. “Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose, and it’s not just a big-city problem. Three in four farmers are, or have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, and three in four say it would be easy for someone in their community to access prescription pain killers illegally.”

Farm Bureau and Farmers Union developed the Farm Town Strong website ( which provides confidential hotline numbers, links to local treatment programs and centers, and contact information for physicians authorized to treat addiction. Prevention resources and information on how and where to dispose of medication also are available.

“It’s really important for people to talk with their friends and family if they or a family member are dealing with addiction,” Atkinson said. “This problem is too big for anyone to solve alone and we know what farmers do best is pitching in to help farmers in times of need. Rural communities are strong, and the strengths of our towns can overcome this crisis.”