Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is awarding $4.1 million in grants to 22 states to help farmers with disabilities through the AgrAbility program, which helps thousands of disabled people overcome barriers to continuing their chosen professions in agriculture.

"Given the right resources, farmers with disabilities can run productive and profitable farms," Vilsack said. "The AgrAbility program can provide the resources and tools producers need to enhance their quality of life and be successful."

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) awards the funds to land-grant universities that have joined with nonprofit disability organizations to address the specialized needs of AgrAbility's customers. Projects include educating professionals on how to assist those with disabilities and directly training disabled agricultural workers. The program has improved customers' financial stability, access to life activities and the ability of states and regions to deliver timely services to those with disabilities.

Since initial funding in 1991, CSREES has awarded grants to more than 30 states resulting in on-farm assistance to more than 12,000 farmers while educating thousands of professionals on how to accommodate those with disabilities in agriculture. The typical award provides up to $180,000 per year for up to four years to qualifying universities.

In addition to the state project grants, one national grant provides additional support for a National AgrAbility Project, which is directed jointly by Purdue University and Goodwill Industries. These national partners joined to provide technical assistance and professional training for the state projects, produce resource materials, and distribute information related to the project. For more information, visit www.agrability.org.

The Fiscal Year 2009 grant recipients are:

  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $199,000
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., $199,000
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Del., $199,000
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $180,000
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $199,000
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $179,860
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $180,000
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $195,965
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., $180,000
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $199,000
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $180,000
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., $199,000
  • Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., $199,000
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $180,000
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $180,000
  • Texas AgriLife Extension, College Station, Texas, $180,000
  • Utah State University, Logan, Utah, $199,000
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $180,000
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., $199,000
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va., $180,000
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., $199,000
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., $172,349

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

Source: USDA