What is in this article?:
- Georgia AgrAbility helping farmers get back to work
- Designed to assist disabled farmers
• The primary objective of the program is to assist in any way possible to help farmers with disabilities get back to farming or continue farming — in some cases, people with disabilities that want to start farming.
• The program is designed to assist disabled farmers, farm workers or family members employed in the agriculture industry.
• Disabilities include amputations, back pain, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, blindness and muscular dystrophy.
GLEN RAINES, co-director of AgrAbility, points to a fence-line feeder he and his team helped developed for a disabled farmer.
Designed to assist disabled farmers
The program is designed to assist disabled farmers, farm workers or family members employed in the agriculture industry. Disabilities include amputations, back pain, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, blindness and muscular dystrophy.
“We work with farmers to find out, ‘Could you safely get back to farming, and if so, what can we do to help?’” Rains said. “We try to work with just about anybody to some extent.”
An estimated 25,000 to 35,000 of the 180,000 members of agricultural households in Georgia have a disability, Rains said. And, there are concerns over the rapidly-aging farming population, he added. The average age of a farmer is 58, whereas 30 years ago, it was 50. More than 20 percent of farmers are at least 80 years old.
The AgrAbility program assists in a variety of ways, whether it’s by helping establish a business plan to acquire loans, sending volunteers to help with crops after a debilitating health condition or providing assistive technology to make tasks easier. Such improvements include designing a spraying system for a farmer with eyesight problems and adding extended steps on tractors.
“Most of these things aren’t rocket science,” Rains said, “They’re just ways of coming up with solutions.
Stanley’s isn’t the only life changed by AgrAbility. In one case, AgrAbility helped a farmer with hemophilia. “He was getting knocked down by his goats when he was in the field. We developed a fence-line feeder. It’s a feeder that you hang on a fence. Now, he can feed (his animals) from outside the fence. That was one that was kind of unique,” Rains said.
Another farmer who benefitted from the program is Moultrie’s James Carter. Carter, who mostly grows hay on his 140-acre farm, suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.
AgrAbility was able to construct a walkway in a fence that would allow Carter to enter and exit the field with ease and without a fear that his animals would get loose. Carter’s tractors were also modified to allow easier access to the seat.
Carter could not be more thankful for AgrAbility’s assistance. “They were a very good help to me,” he said. “We sat down and talked about different ways of getting up and down on the tractor and stuff like that.”
AgrAbility has helped more than 50 Georgia farming families return to the field. It’s a statistic Rains takes great pride in.
“It’s very satisfying. You feel like you’re really making a difference in individual lives,” Rains said. “You’re helping individual farmers one at a time. It’s very satisfying.”
For more information about the program, check out its website at farmagain.com