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Program Helps Keep Farmers On The Farm
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If farming is in their blood, an organization new to Mississippi is determined to keep people with disabilities doing what they love.
AgrAbility for Mississippians, funded by the federal extension service as a grant to the Mississippi State University Extension Service and Easter Seals, works to prevent disabilities from taking farming away from farmers. It helps farmers, farm families or farm workers with disabilities function more easily in agriculture.
"We provide technical assistance and look for devices, equipment modifications or changed farming methods that help a person with disabilities," said Herb Willcutt, extension agricultural engineer with Mississippi State University.
Lisa Ketcham, AgrAbility program administrator, said the ability to work is very important for people with disabilities.
"Many times others will look at a person with a disability and see the disability and not the person," Ketcham said.
To people with disabilities, work becomes more important because of the many barriers, both physical and emotional, they must overcome.
"We can assist people in removing the physical barriers, and the attitudinal barriers will be removed when the community sees that this person can still work," Ketcham said.
AgrAbility will serve both as a broker and provider of services, Willcutt said. Not only will it link service organizations with the individuals in need, but it will provide technical assistance and some limited construction of devices and modifications of equipment.
AgrAbility will send a person trained in rural rehabilitation to a farm to suggest modifications, will educate others on available rehabilitative devices, introduce farm families who share similar concerns and assist in finding help, funding and equipment.
"If a person or family wants to stay in agriculture, we look at what they used to do before being disabled and then do all we can to get them back into farming," Ketcham said.
For more information on the AgrAbility for Mississippians program, contact Herb Willcutt at (601) 325-3103.