AgrAbility of Wisconsin is celebrating 20 years of service. The program, which assists farmers and farmworkers with disabilities, was started in 1991 upon receipt of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Cooperative Extension program is based in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering.
To get a better idea of what the program has accomplished, see Not farming wasn’t an option (an article in the Wisconsin Agriculturalist) and this WMTV interview with outreach specialist Vicki Cooper.
Services provided include education, technical assistance, and identification of funding resources.
AgrAbility staff provide on-site consultative services and assessments to determine farm modifications and adaptive technology that can be used to assist disabled farm workers. Modifications can range from adding a set of extra tractor steps to completely redesigning a milking parlor. The program exists as a cooperative partnership between UW-Extension and the Easter Seals Wisconsin FARM program. UW-Extension handles client intake, outreach, and education while Easter Seals staff provides onsite assessments and adaptation recommendations. Funding resources are made available by the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
In the past year, AgrAbility of Wisconsin has served 450 clients with 131 of those individuals being first-time clients. Since its inception, it has served over 2,000 clients with a 97 percent success rate with success being defined as clients who are able to keep farming after services are provided.