Visitors to this year's Michigan State University Ag Expo will have the opportunity to learn about a unique program improving the lives of farmers with disablities in the state, giving them the help they need to continue farming.
Michigan AgrAbility, supported through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been working for eight years to help farmers with disabilities or chronic illness get back on their feet and back to the farm. Partnering with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, Easter Seals Michigan, Michigan Farm Bureau and United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan, AgrAbility provides confidential services to farmers with ailments ranging from severe allergies to amputations. During its existence, the program has helped more than 240 farmers throughout the state.
"AgrAbility is there to help people keep farming, people in a population that is very independent and doesn't ask for help very often," says MSU Extension and Michigan AgrAbility educator Kelly Ewalt. "We understand that, and our goal is to help you keep doing what you know and love."
At this year's Ag Expo, Michigan AgrAbility will be presenting a session titled "Michigan AgrAbility – What is it?" at 2:30 p.m. on July 19 and 20 and at 9:30 a.m. on July 21 in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) tent. Ewalt will discuss services offered by Michigan AgrAbility as well as demonstrate common equipment modifications that are useful to many farmers.
"We look at everything. That includes which hand tools to use, how to move around the farm – which can be difficult if a farmer is using a wheelchair – how to handle livestock or how to change equipment," she says. "It's very comprehensive."
MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sponsors Ag Expo. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 19 and 20, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 21. Admission to the grounds and parking at Farm Lane and Mt. Hope Road are free.
For more information on the Michigan Ag Expo, visit www.agexpo.msu.edu or call 800-366-7055