Agricultural Commissioner Ron Sparks has announced the implementation of the Alabama Disabled Agribusiness Programs & Technical Support (ADAPTS) program at the Department of Agriculture & Industries (ADAI).

The program will be an active participant of an advisory council with representatives from ADAI, Alabama Cooperative Extension Services, Alabama Easter Seals, Alabama State Vocational Rehabilitation, Auburn University, and the University of Alabama. The council will work together on projects that will assist Alabama’s farmers who have disabilities.

Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States. Physically demanding tasks, utilization of machinery, and proximity to animals make farming an inherently dangerous occupation. Every day, about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, and about 5 percent of these result in permanent impairment.

“We hope this provides a much needed missing link in the agriculture industry,” said Sparks. “A disability has the potential to stop a farmer from succeeding and we want to make sure he or she has the resources to continue with their livelihood and be just as successful as a farmer without a physical challenge. Alabama would be the first in the nation to have a state department of agriculture program dedicated specifically toward disabled agriculture and we hope other states will follow suit."

Some of the services to be provided include: Providing information on legislative issues that affect accessibility and safety of farmers with disabilities, assistance with finding financial support for assistive technology and farm equipment modifications, and direct on-farm technical assistance. In an effort to assist ADAPTS with identifying the different types of disabilities associated with Alabama’s agricultural industries, farmers with disabilities are asked to fill out the Disabled Farmers Questionnaire. This form can be found at agi.alabama.gov/adapts, under the sub-heading “Questionnaire.”

For more information on ADAPTS, visitagi.alabama.gov/adapts, or contact Travis Taylor at 334-240-7172.