NIFA Grants Focus on Youth Farm Safety and Agricultural Careers for People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $832,830 in grants for two new projects, one that empowers veterans, older Americans and others with disabilities to pursue or maintain careers in agriculture, and another to deliver farm safety education to youth seeking employment or already employed in agricultural production.

“Agricultural safety and access are key to a thriving agricultural community,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Through our investments in AgrAbility, we are providing assistance and educational resources to help people with disabilities manage their ranches and farms. Our Youth Safety program ensures that the farming and ranching families have the latest best practices to keep families safe.” 

AgrAbility is a NIFA program that invests in national, state and regional projects to provide education, assistive technology and other support to current and prospective farmers and ranchers with disabilities. In partnership with the Cooperative Extension System and nonprofit disability organizations, AgrAbility helps thousands of individuals, including older farmers and the veteran community, overcome the barriers to continuing their chosen professions in agriculture.

Purdue University received $532,293 to continue hosting the National AgrAbility Project (NAP) that brings together the expertise of a range of partners to encourage individuals with disabilities to get or stay involved in agriculture and become successful. Partners include Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), Colorado State University, as well as faculty collaborators from Washington State University and the University of New Mexico. NAP also enhances the involvement of Extension educators at 1890 and 1994 Land Grant institutions and encourages veterans with disabilities to consider agricultural production as a career. Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

In 2016, NIFA invested $4,123,937 to support state and regional AgrAbility projects. Previously funded projects include a University of Tennessee Extension project that provides direct education to farmers, farm workers, and their families, webinars on assistive technology, youth safety events, briefings to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services and other services. Colorado State University runs the Colorado AgrAbility Project that offers education, workshops, marketing and outreach that connects the veteran community with state and local veteran service agencies.

The second grant announced today, from the Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification Program, will build on the accomplishments of the national Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) program by increasing curricula and resources available through the SAY online information clearinghouse, enhancing stakeholder outreach and marketing and supporting promotion of the CareerSafe OSHA 10-hour General Industry (Agriculture) course. The SAY project is led by the Pennsylvania State University in collaboration with the Ohio State University, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Utah State University, and CareerSafe. Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Previous NIFA Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification include a Purdue University project to develop a national instructor training and certification program on tractor and machinery safety.  Another project by Michigan State University supported the creation of an online educational safety course for youth working on equine facilities.

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