On Tuesday, October 9, the Minnesota Farm Bureau (MFB) Foundation held a meeting for leaders in the southeastern counties of the state to discuss the opioid crisis. During the meeting, attendees shared resources, heard legislative updates and had a roundtable discussion on this crisis in rural America.
As farming communities face mounting challenges with the nation’s opioid epidemic, the nation’s two largest general farm organizations, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, created a campaign to bring attention to the struggles in farm country and encourage farmer-to-farmer support to overcome the opioid epidemic. This campaign is called Farm Town Strong. Learn more and find resources to address this issue at FarmTownStrong.org.
“While Minnesota is currently 42 out of all the states in the opioid crisis, the time is now to discuss the issue and come together with our resources and everyone around the table to address this issue,” said Ruth Meirick, MFB Foundation director.
The MFB Foundation earlier this year received a donation of $25,000 from the Addiction Policy Leadership Action Network, or APLAN, which is a partnership between the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Addiction Policy Forum (APF) and other groups working to combat the opioid epidemic. In addition to the $25,000 grant, the MFB Foundation received a donation of 10,000 Deterra medicine deactivation kits, which are being distributed in rural communities to assist with the disposal of unused opioids.
“Minnesota Farm Bureau has partnered with PhRMA to promote the farmtownstrong.org website to bring awareness and resources to rural Minnesota that help combat the opioid crisis,” said Meirick. “Together we’ll overcome the opioid epidemic through strong farmer-to-farmer support and the resilience of our communities.”
Additional meetings have been held in Luverne, Minn., on September 17 and at the MFB office on September 21. The Winona and Luverne meeting attendees were leaders and those involved in professions affected by the opioid crisis from those regional areas. The meeting on September 21 was with USDA Rural Development Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, Minnesota Rural Development Director Brad Finstad and Congressman Erik Paulsen, of which part of the discussion focused on the opioid crisis.
In addition to the above activities Farm Bureau has developed infographics and handouts that promote the farmtownstrong.org website and hotlines, held a panel discussion at the Farm Bureau National Health & Safety Conference, Kirk Hughes with Minnesota Pollution Control (MPC) spoke on the opioid crisis during a webinar with and for county Farm Bureaus and at the MFB LEAP Conference, Dr. Chris Johnson will speak on this issue at the MFB annual meeting, continued the conversation with elected and appointed officials, distributed information at Farmfest and recently unveiled a County Farm Bureau Resource Kit on opioid abuse.
The MFB Foundation provides opportunities for supporters of agriculture to invest in people and programs focused on supporting active farmers and agriculturalists, better connecting agriculture to consumers and serving rural communities.
MFB — farmers, families, and food — is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureau associations across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children. Join Farm Bureau today and support efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.