USDA Awards 21 AgrAbility Grants to Expand Access to Farming for Americans with Disabilities

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WASHINGTON – Oct. 14, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced 21 grants to land-grant universities to assist farmers and ranchers living with a disability continue being active in agriculture. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants, totaling more than $4 million, through the AgrAbility Program.
“During October, while we observe Disability Employment Awareness Month, it’s appropriate to recognize the importance of assistive technology and safety techniques in agriculture,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These grants enable farmers and ranchers with disabilities to keep working – safely and productively – and keeping farmers and ranchers at work ensures thriving rural communities and economies.”
In fiscal year 2015, NIFA’s AgrAbility Program provided support for three new and 17 established state-level projects eligible for continuation. It also provided the National AgrAbility Project at Purdue University with an additional one-year infusion of funds to better serve veterans with disabilities who are currently engaged in or pursuing agriculture production-related employment. Purdue plans to increase the participation of 1890 land-grant institutions in the AgrAbility Program with an increased focus on serving minority farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers affected by disability.
AgrAbility grantees must partner with nonprofit disability organizations that address the specialized needs of these American farmers and ranchers. Funded projects deliver educational programs that advance farmers’ and health professionals’ knowledge in the area of farm safety; adapt new technologies for farmers with disabilities; provide direct service to agricultural workers; and encourage networking to facilitate information sharing with individuals and organizations not employed by AgrAbility.
The National AgrAbility Project, directed by Purdue University in partnership with Goodwill Industries, the Arthritis Foundation, Colorado State University, and the University of Illinois, received $521,457 in fiscal year 2015 funding.

The following universities and their non-profit partners also received fiscal year 2015 funding:
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., Ability Tools; $189,000
  • Colorado State University Extension, Fort Collins, Colo., Goodwill Industries Denver; $189,000
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., Fort Valley State University and  Shepherd Center Rehabilitation Hospital; $189,000 
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., Southeast Kansas Center for Independent Living and Assistive Technology for Kansans state program; $189,000
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., Kentucky State University, KY Office Of Vocational Rehabilitation, Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital, and Growing Veterans Project; $189,000
  • University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, Urbana, Ill.,  Macon Resources, Illinois Assistive Technology Program, and Community Health Partnership of Illinois; $180,000 
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Orono, Maine, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One; $189,000
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., Easter Seals of Michigan; $189,000
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., Lincoln University Cooperative Extension and the Brain Injury Association of Missouri; $189,000
  • University of Nebraska Extension, Lincoln, Neb., Easter Seals Nebraska; $189,000
  • North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C., Disability Resource Centers for Independent Living; $177,993
  • The Ohio State University Extension, Columbus, Ohio, Easter Seals Tristate; $189,000
  • The Pennsylvania State University (State College, Penn.) in partnership with United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA; $189,000
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., Hoosier Uplands Economic Development Corporation and Arthritis Foundation - Heartland Region; $180,000
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., Tennessee State University and East Tennessee Technology Access Center; $189,000
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, College Station, Texas, Prairie View A&M University and Easter Seals; $189,000
  • Virginia Tech Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., Easter Seals UCP of NC and Virginia $189,000
  • Utah State University, Logan, Utah, New Frontiers for Families, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Utah Assistive Technology Program; $189,000
  • West Virginia University Extension Services, Morgantown, W.V., West Virginia State University, West Virginia University Assistive Technology Systems, and  Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley; $189,000
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., Easter Seals Wisconsin: $189,000
 Since initial funding in 1991, NIFA has awarded AgrAbility grants to more than 35 states resulting in on-farm assistance to more than 12,000 farmers, while educating thousands of professionals on how to accommodate those with disabilities in agriculture.
NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit or follow us on Twitter @usda_nifa, #NIFAImpacts.

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