Summer 2008, Vol. 8, No. 4

Agrability Quarterly

Promoting Success in Agriculture for People with Disabilities and Their Families

Summer 2008, Vol. 8, No. 4
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Feature Story: The Roots of AgrAbility

AgrAbility and the Farm Bill

On June 18, 2008 the Farm Bill was reauthorized by Congress, securing another eight years of funding for AgrAbility. To mark this occasion we are looking back on the past seventeen years of the USDA’s funding of AgrAbility, and our combined efforts to assist people with disabilities involved in production agriculture and their families.

It is well known that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States.  It was in 1944 that Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first National Farm Safety Week proclamation, which brought more awareness to safety issues on our nation’s farms and ranches (National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, 2007).  Every President since then has supported this proclamation.  Safety standards for farm equipment have been vastly improved, and many private and public organizations are now dedicated to improving farm safety and health.  Nearly 700 farmers and ranchers die in work related incidents each year. Another 80,000 workers sustain disabling injuries from work-related incidents in 2005 (National Safety Council, 2007). The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that more than 200,000 farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers experience lost-work-time injuries and occupational illnesses every year, approximately five percent of which have serious and permanent results. Off-farm incidents and health conditions disable thousands more farmers each year. Based on nationwide data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (2000), approximately 387,900 agricultural producers could be affected by disabilities and chronic health conditions. Today, like seventeen years ago, there is a continual need for the work done by AgrAbility.

A color photo of Ryan Odens, AgrAbility client and Easter Seals' National Youth Representative, sitting by his tractor.
Ryan Odens, Easter Seals’ 2006 National Youth Representative and AgrAbility client.

Grassroots lobbying efforts for AgrAbility had its beginnings at Easter Seals. Jennifer Dexter, assistant vice president, government relations, has been the lead person providing AgrAbility information. “Developing relationships with the right people and keeping those relationships are key components in securing funding every year for AgrAbility,” Jennifer says.  Let’s explore how the concept of AgrAbility in the Farm Bill began, how the program has been implemented, and what needs to happen to ensure continued growth and success for AgrAbility in the coming years.

NEXT: Editorial – Advocacy for Farmers with Disabilities

In This Issue
Section 1: Feature Story – The Roots of AgrAbility
Section 2: Editorial – Advocacy for Farmers with Disabilities
Section 3: Focus – AgrAbility Partnerships
Section 4: Editorial – A NAP Thank You
Section 5: Contacts