Agriculture News

November 30, 2017

Statewide symposium to address opioid crisis in rural Indiana

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A consortium of eight Indiana agricultural and public health organizations will host a statewide symposium focusing on the significant impact of the opioid crisis in rural and farming communities.

The symposium is scheduled for Jan. 5, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Boone County Fairgrounds, 1300 Hwy. 100 S, Lebanon. Sponsors are Purdue Extension, AgrIInstitute, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Agribusiness Council of Indiana, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Rural Health Association, Indiana State Poultry Association, Indiana Pork and the Indiana Farm Bureau.

“The opioid crisis has greatly affected rural communities,” said Angie Abbott, associate director of Purdue Extension and program leader for Health and Human Sciences Extension. “We see this symposium as a way to build awareness and forge effective partnerships among organizations and individuals to address this dire public health emergency.”

“The social and economic health and vitality of our agricultural industry and Indiana’s rural communities are at risk because of this issue,” said Beth Archer, executive director of AgrIInstitute, a leadership development and people-capacity building program serving Indiana’s agricultural industry. “It is paramount that we work together to eliminate the stigma associated with this health issue. We must bring the treatment and recovery resources needed to restore the health of our most important asset - our people. It starts with being informed.”

The opioid crisis affects all socioeconomic groups and geographic areas but is especially critical in rural areas. According to Centers for Disease Control studies, people in rural areas are more likely to overdose on prescription pain medications than people in cities and the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in non-metro counties is 45 percent higher than in metro counties.

During the symposium, a statewide panel of public policy leaders and experts from the health, economic development and law enforcement sectors will discuss the social and financial consequences of opioid abuse, as well as prevention and treatment initiatives.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch will introduce the program and provide opening remarks. The keynote speaker is Sam Quinones, nationally recognized author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.” The luncheon speaker will be Jim McClelland, executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement for the state of Indiana.

Anne Hazlett, assistant to the secretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and former director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, will deliver the closing address.

Deena Dodd, network development director of the Indiana Rural Health Association, will moderate the morning panel discussion: “What Are the Facts and Why Should I Care?” Panelists are Kevin Moore, division director of the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction; Lisa Suttle, director of strategic initiatives community psychiatric services for Reid Health in Richmond; Dan Krouse, assistant general manager at Midwest Poultry Services in Mentone; and Doug Payne, a Brown County farmer, EMT, school bus driver and volunteer fireman who has been in recovery for 11 years.

Topics for the morning panel include:

* Addiction numbers.

* Treatment facilities/needs/recovery housing.

* Law enforcement costs/resource utilization.

* Social services: CPS/foster care.

* Education: Impact on school services/safety.

* Workforce: Human resources/employment facts.

* Medical/Hospitals.

The afternoon session will include presentations from a number of statewide experts. Stephanie Woodcox, assistant program leader and Purdue Health and Human Sciences Extension specialist, will highlight the community-based prevention education programs available through Purdue Extension.

  State Sen. Jim Merritt, representing Hamilton and Marion counties, will address legislative and policy opportunities; Deena Dodd, network development director for the Indiana Rural Health Association, will lead a discussion on needle exchange programs; and Mike Neilsen, Boone County sheriff, will talk about jail treatment solutions.

Other presenters include Sonya Carrico, substance abuse services division director for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute; Katrina Norris, director of the Fayette Regional Care Pavilion; John Ferguson of the UW Central IN Americorp project; and Amnah Anwar, leader of the Indiana Opioid Consortium.

The symposium is open to the public. Registration, including lunch, is $30. To register, go to

Writer: Darrin Pack, 765-494-8415, 

Source: Angie Abbott, 765-496-2488,

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Shari Finnell, Manager/Media Relations and Public Information,  
Agriculture News Page

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