The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded the Missouri AgrAbility Project a grant to continue its services for another four years, according to University of Missouri Extension state health and safety specialist Karen Funkenbusch, who serves as director of the program.
USDA awarded 21 grants to land-grant universities to assist the growing population of farmers and ranchers living with disabilities and help them remain active in production agriculture. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grants, totaling $4.1 million, through the national AgrAbility program. MU received $180,000 for fiscal year 2014.
Funkenbusch said everyone in agriculture should have access to the latest farm-safety techniques and most effective assistive technology solutions. “The AgrAbility program enhances the quality of life for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers with disabilities by helping them overcome barriers to continuing their chosen professions in agriculture,” she said. She has worked with the state program for 20 years.
AgrAbility supports projects between the state cooperative extension system and private nonprofit disability organizations that work in partnership. Missouri AgrAbility served 150 farmers and ranchers in 2014. Staff members from human environmental sciences and agricultural engineering extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension’s Innovative Small Farmers Outreach Program and the Brain Injury Association of Missouri provide educational workshops, on-site farm assessments, off-site visits, technical assistance, and recommendations and resource materials to farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and family members who are limited by any type of physical, cognitive or illness-related disability or chronic health condition.
Missouri AgrAbility partners with the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy, the Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation program, Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, USDA Farm Service Agency and the Missouri Arthritis and Osteoporosis Program.
For more information about the Missouri AgrAbility Project, go to http://agrability.missouri.edu.