What is AgrAbility Unlimited?
For the majority of over three million Americans who earn their living in agriculture, the work involved is not just their livelihood, it is their way of life; productive, satisfying and a great source of personal and professional pride. It goes without saying that agricultural production is hazardous. It is estimated that more than 200,000 farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers experience lost-work-time injuries and occupational illnesses every year, of which approximately five percent have serious and/or permanent results. Tens of thousands more fall victim to general health conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis, or cancer, as well as disabilities associated with aging.
The Breaking New Ground Resource Center estimates that more than 500,000 persons working in agriculture have physical disabilities that directly impair their ability to perform essential tasks on the farm or ranch. For those with disabilities who work or live in agricultural settings, the majority want to continue to do so. However, they are all too often frustrated by the many obstacles that make this difficult: limited personal and financial resources, rural isolation, and inadequate access to agriculture-oriented assistance, to name a few.
Illinois was one of the first states to benefit from the USDA initiative for a state-level program to provide information on accommodating disability in agriculture. Building on the strength of nationwide resources and a statewide network of agricultural, rural health, safety and social agencies, AgrAbility Unlimited offers education and assistance in identifying ways to accommodate disabilities, eliminate barriers, and create a favorable climate among rural service providers for people with disabilities. AgrAbility strives to help agricultural people maintain their livelihood by keeping them ‘on the farm’, providing information on safe, affordable modifications and solutions, regardless of disability, whether the farming operation is a large or small one.