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Skaggs: AgrAbility offers help to injured farmers
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Farm safety is a serious issue in the United States. The annual death rate for farm workers involving on-farm accidents is 20.3 per 100,000 workers nationally. Forty-six percent of all farm fatalities are from the use of farm tractors and implements used with tractors.

While the number of farm fatalities is disturbing, the number of farm-related accidents resulting in personal injury is equally troubling.

According to the department of labor and the 2000 census report on the percent of individuals who experience a disability, approximately 288,000 individuals engaged in production agriculture experience physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities that affect performing one or more essential work tasks.

In Georgia, it is estimated that between 25,000 to 35,000 agricultural workers have disabilities.

When farm families and workers become ill or injured, man hours that are crucial to the operation of the farm are lost. Here in Georgia and in many other states, help is available to farmers experiencing such circumstances. The program, called AgrAbility, provides information and services that may make it possible for those injured to return to farming.

AgrAbility in Georgia is a free service and is part of a national program administered through the United States Department of Agriculture. The program focuses on promoting independence for members of the agricultural community who have disabilities.

The program in Georgia is managed by the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Institute on Human Development and Disability in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

AgrAbility is proud to partner with the Shepherd Center and the Arthritis Foundation Georgia Chapter in serving agricultural workers around the state.

The services available from AgrAbility include:

  • Technical assistance: AgrAbility provides direct assistance to agricultural families with technology, work site modifications and independent living.
  • Information sharing: AgrAbility provides information through individual contacts, distribution of resources, agency referrals and public education.
  • Professional training: AgrAbility provides training opportunities on available resources and assistive technology for consumers and professionals.

Those eligible for AgrAbility in Georgia services may be an owner or employee in a production agriculture setting with any type of disability or chronic health condition. It is a free service.

For more information, call 1-877-524-6264.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column on agribusiness appears biweekly.