UM Extension offers farmers health aid

Posted Sept. 13, 2010, at 10:56 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — A national program aimed at helping farmers, farmworkers and farm family members with chronic health conditions or disabilities so they may continue to farm successfully and live independently is available through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Maine AgrAbility, a collaboration among UMaine, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One, will provide technical assistance and consultation services such as suggestions for modifying or adapting agricultural operations, buildings, equipment or tools at no charge.

The program was funded by a four-year, $668,282 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. AgrAbility programs are offered in 25 states and are coordinated by the National AgrAbility Project.

There are an estimated 5,700 farmers and farmworkers in Maine with chronic health conditions or disabilities, according to a press release issued last week by the University of Maine. The new program addresses disabling conditions such as arthritis, spinal cord injuries and paralysis, back impairments, amputations, brain injury, visual and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy and respiratory ailments.

The program also works with rural agriculture, rehabilitation and health care professionals to support Maine farmers with disabilities and their families. Maine AgrAbility also is working to share information and resources across the state through networking activities.

Information on the program is available at www.agrability.org.

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