Growing up in Northwest Indiana has resulted in a vast majority of my formative years being spent around fields of corn and soy beans, and the people who grow them. Farming is a big industry that is very much alive and well. It can be a dangerous profession; however, as it requires much use of powerful tools and machinery. People get do hurt, and it can bring an end to farming for some who develop disabilities.
Meet the National AgrAbility Project (NAP), an initiative born from the 1990 Farm Bill to bring ability back to farmlands across the United States. The sole purpose: help to enable a higher quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities.
With reach in 22 states currently, and a vast online library of resources, AgrAbility is proving a strong dedication to this mission. They offer resources for nearly any injury, ranging from arthritis up to SCI and missing limbs. Guides exist for the farmers themselves, but ample resources are present for the entire family, youth, care givers, and even business resources for management assistance. These all exist in conjunction with the grants provided by AgrAbility. In some instances, direct assistance may also be an option.
Farmers also have the ability to request for and help get AgrAbility in their home state or region if they have not yet expanded there.
Since the beginning, the Purdue University Breaking New Ground Resource Center has been at the helm of the AgrAbility project. A hiatus from Purdue occurred for a few years, but it came back home in 2008 to stay. The NAP is partnered with Easter Seals, Goodwill Industries International, The Indiana chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
AgrAbility seeks to develop service by means of education, adaptation of new technology, and the delivery of content. They encourage networking within members of AgrAbility, and will assist people in networking with external sources if it provides the best for the farmers.
For the farmers that form the community around me, AgrAbility is a life-saving safety net should any mishap occur. As they continue to spread into more states and regions, this safety net is creating a community for the future of farming nationwide. This initiative is more than just a national resource, but a way to preserve the agriculture industry that this nation was founded upon.