Farming is a career that requires some amount of physical work, although advances in farm machinery over the years have made the physical part of the job less than in the past. Still, there is a lot of climbing into cabs, working with livestock and operating machinery.
In the past when a farmer would suffer a serious injury or acquire a health condition, this usually meant their farming days were done. If they could not physically do the tasks needed on the farm, they usually couldn't farm anymore.
I have known many people who had to have a farm equipment auction and shut down their operation because their bodies could not physically withstand the wear and tear of operating a farm. In many cases, they were older folks (and often well past the normal retirement age), but in some cases, younger people were forced to stop farming because of physical disabilities.
Today, thanks to groups like the AgrAbility Project, farmers who face disabilities can continue working on their farms if they so wish.
AgrAbility consists of the National AgrAbility Project (NAP) and State/Regional AgrAbility Projects (SRAPs). Both the NAP and all the SRAPs must be partnerships between a land-grant university and at least one nonprofit disability organization. All AgrAbility Projects report to the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in Washington, D.C. Currently, there are 21 USDA-funded SRAPs providing services in 22 states, plus several unfunded affiliates serving other states via other funding sources.
Recently, the Kansas AgrAbility Project announced that it had earned additional grant funding to help farmers in the state.
Since 2002, Kansas AgrAbility has focused on directly assisting Kansas farmers, farm employees and farm family members who have become injured or have an activity-limiting health condition/limitation to remain actively engaged in production agriculture for as long as they choose.
Thanks to a new round of federal grant funding, the project will continue to be a resource for Kansas farmers and ranchers dealing with disabilities and chronic illness, according to a Kansas State University Extension news release.
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently awarded Kansas AgrAbility a new four-year $720,000 grant to extend operations until at least 2022. USDA-NIFA's competitive grant funds projects in 20 states.
The grant is administered in Kansas State University's Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering by Project Director John Slocombe and Project Coordinator Tawnie Larson.
Kansas AgrAbility Agriculture Assistive Technology Specialists combine their knowledge of agriculture with disability expertise to provide specialized services needed to safely accommodate disabilities in every farm and ranch operations. These services cover the entire state of Kansas and include collaboration with Extension educators, disability experts, rural professionals and volunteers in offering an array of services.
The project actively promotes education and networking among rural and disability-service organizations to increase capacity for serving farmers with disabilities. In addition, the project promotes understanding around challenges faced by those farmers in an effort to break down service barriers and promote successful outcomes.
AgrAbility also provides educational resources to avoid primary and secondary injuries on the farm by recommending safe practices and tools to minimize back and joint injuries.
The AgrAbility Project is a partnership between Kansas State University Research and Extension, Southeast Kansas Independent Living in Parson, Kansas, and the University of Kansas Lifespan Institute.
To read the entire Kansas State University press release click on the following link: http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/….
To learn more about the National AgrAbility Project, visit http://www.agrability.org/….
Russ Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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