AgrAbility Harvest 2019 An ingathering of helpful information on disability in agriculture

Volume 10, Number 1
Cover Story

1+1=3 may seem like bad math, but it illustrates a key aspect of AgrAbility’s work: collaboration. Synergy created by individuals or organizations working together often produces outcomes greater than the sum of what each entity can accomplish on its own. Thus, “bad math” can mean good results.

In addition to this synergy, other benefits of collaboration include sharing resources, overcoming obstacles, increased community awareness, and access to constituents and funding.

Word cloud with names organizations mentioned in article listed horizontally or vertically.

AgrAbility succeeds only through close relationships with other organizations. In fact, collaboration is built into the program’s core structure: our USDA grants require partnerships between land-grant universities and disability nonprofits.

AgrAbility’s partnership with USDA/NIFA is obviously one of its most im- portant, and we are thankful to again be authorized by Congress through the new Farm Bill to be part of the USDA community. In addition, there are a host of other organizations that provide vital collaborative relationships: Goodwill, Easterseals, APRIL and centers for independent living, Cooperative Extension, AT Act Projects, Farmer Veteran Coalition, and Farm Bureau are just a few. Support from organizations like Farm Credit Services, Bayer, Deere & Company, and Life Essentials provide vital resources, as do foundations like CHS Foundation and NEC Foundation of America.

State vocational rehabilitation systems (VR) have long been among AgrAbility’s key partners. Since AgrAbility grants do not allow for the purchase of equipment or the provision of funding to clients, VR has been a main provider of assistive technology for many AgrAbility clients.

However, recent regulatory changes are making it more difficult for AgrAbility clients to obtain vital services from VR agencies. For example, some now require individuals to show that they can make at least minimum wage through their enterprises. However, such calculations can be difficult for farmers and ranchers when income is often directly reinvested into the operation.

In response to VR’s changes, some AgrAbility projects have been looking to other sources of funding to assist clients. The National AgrAbility Project is working with organizations like the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation to develop best-practice models that can provide a vision of how VR can both serve AgrAbility clients and meet regulatory mandates. Another hope is that state and federal legislators might amend regulations so that AgrAbility clients can continue to receive the services they need to support themselves, their families, and their communities.

A Closer Look
A.T. Corner
Resources for Success
Partner Updates
On the Horizon