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USDA-NIFA Funding Supports Farmers with Disabilities, Youth Safety Programs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has been awarded funding from the U.S Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture for programs to help prevent fatalities and serious injuries associated with farming and to provide assistance to individuals farming with disabilities.

A $180,000 USDA-NIFA grant will support AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians, which is a partnership between Penn State Extension and UCP of Central Pennsylvania, a nonprofit specializing in services for people of all ages with a disability.

Penn State also will receive funding as a subcontractor under a $100,000 grant awarded to the University of Nebraska for the Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) project, which is aimed at keeping the next generation of farmers safe.

AgrAbility provides direct services to farmers and farm families with a disability or long-term health condition who wish to continue in agricultural production.

Since its inception at Penn State in 1995, the program has provided direct services to more than 750 agricultural producers in the state by conducting on-farm assessments, providing farmers with disabilities with individualized recommendations about farm accessibility, and identifying assistive technology devices and providers. Thousands more are the recipients of indirect services, such as referrals and farm safety education.

Protecting youth working in agriculture is the central focus of the Safety in Agriculture for Youth, a NIFA-funded program that began in 2014. This multi-institution, multi-state project enhances accessibility to quality youth farm-safety curricula. Thanks to this program, more than 18,000 youth from 46 states, most under 18 years of age, have enrolled in the CareerSafe-OSHA 10-hour General Industry (Agriculture) online training — and close to 9,000 youth have completed it.

At Penn State, Pate and Fetzer help to create content and activities and to distribute agricultural safety and health materials to 4-H leaders and agricultural educators through the project's national clearinghouse. These resources include lessons on animal safety, blind spots and skid steers, grain safety, ladder safety, and manure pit safety.


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