The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $540,000 in funding for state and regional projects that provide education, assistive technology and other support to current and prospective farmers and ranchers with disabilities. Since 1991, NIFA’s AgrAbility program has helped thousands of individuals with disabilities, including older farmers and veterans, achieve success in agricultural occupations.
“Whether you are an experienced farmer facing mobility issues or a veteran starting a new career in agriculture, AgrAbility works with the Cooperative Extension System and nonprofit disability organizations to open doors to people with disabilities,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The AgrAbility network gives health, farm and government service providers tools to provide greater access to the agricultural profession.”
This funding opportunity will support the development of new state and regional AgrAbility projects that help providers build their capacity to serve people with disabilities. Projects also directly provide assistance to people with disabilities. Eligible projects focus on the following:
- Education – Projects help health, farm and government service providers develop or evaluate educational resources on accommodating disabilities and avoiding secondary injuries in persons with disabilities.
- Networking – Projects support information sharing among customers, peer supporters, volunteer groups, funders and other stakeholders.
- Assistance – Projects offer consultation services to AgrAbility customers and their farm operations to help them achieve success.
- Marketing – Projects promote awareness of AgrAbility resources for eligible individuals.
The deadline for applications is Feb. 15, 2017.
See the request for applications on NIFA’s AgrAbility web page for more information.
AgrAbility projects are competitively funded for four-year periods. Continued funding of a project is dependent on the availability of funds each year and the demonstration of satisfactory annual progress. All proposals include specific, measurable accomplishments for each project year. NIFA is currently funding 21 AgrAbility projects.
Currently-funded projects include the National AgrAbility Project and 20 state and regional AgrAbility projects. Earlier projects include one by University of Tennessee Extension that provides briefings to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, direct education to farmers, farm workers and their families, webinars on assistive technology and youth safety events. Colorado State University runs the Colorado AgrAbility Project, delivering education, workshops, marketing and outreach to veterans through collaboration with state and local veteran service agencies.
In the video The Next Mission, retired U.S. Marine Jon Turner describes how AgrAbility helped him transition into farming at Wild Roots Farm in Vermont. “I ended up linking with people in AgrAbility and that has been really wonderful because it’s not just working with veterans; it’s working with people with all types of disabilities and all types of backgrounds, and they’re all farming different things,” said Turner. “Now I’m in the process of developing a veterans regenerative agricultural program … to help them be involved in farming and gardening that also acts as horticultural therapy.”
NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative research, education and extension to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA’s support of the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel has resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability and ensuring food safety.