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USDA grants assist farmers with disabilities

Thousands of disabled farmers in 21 states will have access to education and assistance to continue farming through the recent funding of more than $3.7 million for “AgrAbility” projects, says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

“Disabilities should not prevent someone from having a career in agriculture,” said Johanns. “These AgrAbility projects enhance the quality of life for farmers with disabilities and their families, and provide them with the tools they need to be successful.”

Projects include educating professionals on how to assist those with disabilities and directly training disabled agricultural workers. AgrAbility has improved farmers’ financial stability and access to life activities, and has enabled states and regions to deliver timely services to those with disabilities.

USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) administers the funds to land-grant universities that have joined with nonprofit disability organizations to address the specialized needs of AgrAbility’s participants. Since initial funding in 1991, CSREES has awarded grants to more than 30 states resulting in on-farm assistance to more than 13,000 farmers while educating thousands of professionals on how to accommodate disabilities in agriculture.

Eligible grant applicants include land-grant universities with non-profit disability organization partners. The typical award provides up to $200,000 per year for up to four years.

Included in grants this year were awards to University of Georgia, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, Oklahoma State University, University of Tennessee, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.

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