Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Jim Carroll announced Anne Hazlett as the office’s Senior Adviser for Rural Affairs. Hazlett has served as the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) since June 2017. In her new role, Hazlett will help shape policy aimed at improving the quality of life in rural America. Hazlett told HAT she will be a voice for rural America in the administration’s efforts to deal with the nation’s drug problem.
“One of the things that I am looking forward to doing is to be in a position to take the needs of rural America to other government agencies who have resources that rural communities need.” She said that includes things like recovery housing and treatment facilities for addiction.
Hazlett has made the drug issue in rural areas a major focus of her efforts at USDA and says she has seen progress in dealing with the epidemic.
“When a community begins to deal with this issue, it opens up a broader discussion on what is needed to for prosperity in the future.”
Hazlett feels that, by getting more federal agencies involved, more resources will be provided to rural areas. For example improved transportation. “Can we provide resources to rural areas from the Department of Transportation to get people to medical care?”
“Rural communities across the United States have been particularly hard hit by our nation’s addiction crisis,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll said. “Anne has a critical understanding of the unique challenges facing these communities and is committed to helping them reverse the effects of the opioid epidemic. We are looking forward to her joining our team as we build a stronger, healthier, drug-free society today and in the years to come.” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, “With her love of people and passion for bringing hope to small towns impacted by this epidemic, Anne is perfectly suited for this important role.”
Because of Hazlett’s departure, Secretary Perdue named Joel Baxley, USDA’s Administrator of the Rural Housing Service (RHS), as Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. Perdue will soon name an Acting Administrator for RHS. In the meantime, Perdue is working with the White House to identify a candidate to nominate for USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, a position created by the 2018 Farm Bill. Following Senate confirmation of a new Under Secretary for Rural Development, the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development position would be eliminated.