The National AgrAbility Program celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year in supporting farmers and their families with disabilities. USDA currently supports more than 25 states and regional projects including the Mid-Atlantic AgrAbility Project (MAAP) which supports farmers in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.
The vision of AgrAbility is to enable a high quality lifestyle for farmers and farm workers with disabilities. Through education and assistance, AgrAbility helps to eliminate obstacles that blocks success in production agriculture or agriculture-related occupations. AgrAbility helps farmers tackle the health challenges that sometimes come with farming like: arthritis, chronic back pain, respiratory problems, hearing and visual impairment and more serious challenges such as amputations, paralysis, head injuries, and other disabling conditions.
The Mid-Atlantic AgrAbility Project is a partnership of the land-grant institutions – the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland and Rutgers University working with non-profit disability partners – Easter Seals of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Resources for Independence in Maryland, and Goodwill in New Jersey. The project targets farmers, watermen, loggers and poultry growers who want to continue making their livelihoods in agriculture despite a physical limitation or health condition.
AgrAbility offers the following services at no cost to farmers:
• Conducts on-site assessments to identify barriers
• Recommends appropriate assistive technologies (equipment, tools and devices), modified work practices, and other possible solutions to overcoming disability-related limitations
• Provides educational and training opportunities and informational materials
• Refers customers to service providers for potential assistance (financial support and rehabilitative services, etc.) to meet the clients’ needs
• Offers expert advice on equipment modifications, home modifications and adaptive equipment
• Provides peer support opportunities
Since it began in 1991, AgrAbility has impacted the lives of thousands of farmers through direct services. The Mid-Atlantic AgrAbility Project is in its 14th year and it is estimated that we have serviced approximately 300 first-time farmers and their families and reached more than 10,000 with training, educational programs, and outreach activities.
The Mid-Atlantic AgrAbility Project provides solutions, removes barriers through assistive technology, is about no-limit thinking and preserves a way of life. Please visit our website at http://www.mid-atlanticagrability.com or contact Ron Jester at the Sussex County Extension Office (302)856-2585, Ext 584 to learn more about the program.