Workshops Help Agriculturists with Disabilities Stay in Business

Farming and ranching are dangerous occupations. The USDA estimates that each year more than 200,000 of U.S. agriculturists lose work time to occupational injuries or illnesses, with 5 percent of those becoming permanent disabilities.

Often complicating the situation are factors unique to the rural areas where most farmers, ranchers and others in agricultural industries live. Isolation, limited resources, inadequate delivery services and insufficient access to assistance are common.

AgrAbility, a program sponsored by Colorado State Cooperative Extension and Easter Seals, is designed to help farmers, ranchers and others in agriculture. It shows people ways to work around their own disabilities or those of other family members.

"AgrAbility prevents people from being forced out of agriculture due to their disabilities by providing them with safe, affordable modifications and solutions to help them maintain their business and lifestyles," said Bob Fetsch, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension family life state specialist. "The program helps assess worksites, identify helpful modifications, restructure tasks, coordinate local resources and services, prevent secondary injuries and encourage independent living."

AgrAbility workshops are being offered this fall for farmers, ranchers and others in the industry who have a disability or a family member with a disability. Workshops also are offered for professionals who serve this population. Topics include information about modifying equipment and identifying stress, depression and anger.

Free workshops are scheduled around the state beginning in October. To register for a workshop or for more information, contact Fetsch at 970-491-5648 or