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Hancock, J., M.A. Purschwitz, K. Sheppard-Jones
Kentucky agriculture is as diverse as the landscape from the Mississippi River bottoms in western Kentucky to the eastern Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. In 2002, 18.4% of Kentucky employment was farm or farm-related (Census, 2005). According to the 2005 Kentucky Department of Agriculture Report, agriculture is the largest industry in the state. In 2007, Kentucky ranked fourth nationally in the numbers of farms with 85,260 - the highest number east of the Mississippi River. Of these, 89% were family farms and over 95% were small farms. The average age of Kentucky farmers increased to 56.5 years, with the number of full-time farmers decreasing to 40%. Farm operators included 32,652 women, 1,005 were minority/socially disadvantaged including African American, and 29,247 were 65 or older. Overall Kentucky's farm product sales were $4.82 billion (NASS, 2007).
The vast majority of Kentucky's farmers, particularly high percentages of Kentucky's African American and women famers, have livestock on their farms, with horses, poultry, and beef cattle being Kentucky's three major agricultural products. Kentucky farmers have diversified from large row crops (corn and soybean) to hay, vegetable, horticulture, and nursery.
Kentucky is a largely rural state, with 117 of its 120 counties classified as rural. Those living in agricultural settings often experience greater isolation and depressed economic opportunities. Kentucky is the 6th poorest state in the country, with over 17% of the population living below the poverty line (US estimates, 2008). According to the US Census Bureau, 23.7% of Kentuckians, age 5 and older, have a disability as compared to 19.3% of the US population (Census Brief, 2003). In fact, only West Virginia's disability rate exceeds Kentucky (Census Brief, 2003). Of those with disabilities, nearly 30% live in poverty. For people who have a disability, the implications of a rural life can mean even larger disparities in opportunities. Urban and rural communities have different health priorities that are related to differences in demographics, health behavior, geographic isolation, and access to health care (Eberhardt, 2001).
While it is true that those with disabilities in rural settings have experienced a long history of problems with transportation, employment, and access to health care, a new reliance on technology and innovative approaches to service delivery, such as Kentucky AgrAbility, can offer new insights (Harley, Bishop & Wilson, 2002). Having a disability merely increases the need for interventions that may be medical, physical, social, emotional, or societal. This is compounded when those who experience injuries or disabilities don't know where to look for assistance. Typically resilient and self-reliant farm families may not ask for help when disability strikes. This means that without an understanding of the potential for rehabilitation, these individuals may be forced to choose alternate occupations or, worse yet, no occupation at all. Kentucky AgrAbility assists in alleviating the impacts of disability and the challenges inherent in rural life.
2011 Project Description
Events: Information was presented or distributed at the following conferences, workshops and meetings: 11 KSU Field Days, National Farm Machinery Show; KARRN Conference; 2 UK AG Extension Agent Updates (2 day conferences at each); 3 KSU staff and Extension Agent training sessions; meetings with the Bourbon County Goat Association; the Bullet County Cattleman Association; The Whitley County Cattleman Association; District 6 and District 2 Extension Staff Meetings; Migrant Workers Employment Program; KSU Small and Limited Resource conference; Regional Vocational Rehabilitation Staff Meetings; 9 KARRN video conferences; Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Resident Program; Western Kentucky Assistive Technology Workshop; CDRS presentation at Lexington; Assistive Technology Workshop (2 day meeting); National Conference on Aging; Western Kentucky Field Day; National ADED Conference; Driver Rehabilitation Technician Training; Kentucky Veterinary Conference; Kentucky Farm Bureau Conference; Disability Awareness for Boy Scouts camp; KSU Environmental Awareness Unit; National No Barriers Summit; National AgrAbility Workshop Activities and Services: 68 farm/farmer visits and assessments, 36 referrals to VR, 160 one-on-one consultations with the KY Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital; monthly meetings with KARRN; meeting with veteran farm coalition to set up future retreat for returning veterans.
Products: Equipment for Ride N' Drive course including adaptive equipment for use in the course; hydraulic hitching device, right and left hand controls for use with either right or left side impairments; lifts for Kubota Utility vehicle and for John Deere tractor and skid steer. Videos for safe transfers from vehicle to wheel chair, wheel chair to tractor, wheel chair to utility vehicle and skid steer, brochures for distribution; two newsletters for distribution; video for proper seating and for pressure mapping; work at KSU farm for accessible green house farming; remote camera for ride and drive assessment and other driving and equipment operation assessments. Of the 72 active clients, with the help of the State Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, AgrAbility was able to close 10 cases successfully modifying and adapting the farm equipment including, the purchase of a tractor equipped with a cab with filtered air, heating and air conditioning for client with COPD and lung cancer; fabricated lifts for several clients; automated gate openers for 3 clients; the purchase of utility vehicles; hand controls for vehicles, both tractor and utility vehicles; remote camera system; on- road vehicle modification. Funding of approximately $300,000 was obtained to allow disabled/injured farmers to continue farming in Kentucky.
Change in Knowledge: In the second year of the grant, 2012, the Kentucky AgrAbility Project was able to disseminate information to more than 400,000 people through the distribution of brochures, newsletters, videos, presentations and workshops. Information included available assistive technology for agricultural workers and their families, information on how to obtain services, information on ways to obtain funding for the assistive technology and adaptation to the home and farm, and safety information to prevent secondary injuries and accidents. We have been able to train approximately 400 allied health professionals, UK extension agents and staff, vocational rehabilitation specialists, KSU extension agents and research personnel is assistive technology and applications of the technology in the agricultural field. Through the purchase and training of the pressure mapping system we increased their knowledge of proper seating and the prevention of secondary injury.
With the use of videos, meetings and brochures we have been able to further the awareness of safe farm equipment operation. In collaboration with the driver rehabilitation specialist organization, we have been able to teach at a national convention the importance of proper training in safety for the AgrAbility client. By presenting at the state and local conferences and workshop we raised the awareness of the National AgrAbility Project and the impact it can have on the agricultural community. While attending these meetings we were also able to view and learn about new technology that we are applying to the needs of our clients.
Change in Actions: Because of the purchased equipment we are now able to show our client the types of assistive equipment available and can instruct them in how this technology can allow them to continue in agriculture after an illness of injury. Using certified driver rehabilitation specialist to assess the ability of the client, we can determine the best way for the client to safely operate the adaptive equipment they may need. University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University extension personnel are now familiar with the AgrAbility Project goals and are now referring clients to us. Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital staff are now able to recognize clients that will benefit from the AgrAbility Project and are able to make approximately 5 referrals per month.
Change in Condition: Vocational Rehabilitation staff are now more versed in the services that can be provide to the agricultural community and are making the services available to the farmer. Approximately $573,000 has been provided this year to the clients of UK AgrAbility so that they may continue to farm in Kentucky.
Bokros, L., 2011, August Bi-Annual Newsletter Bokros, L., 2012, February Bi-Annual Newsletter Kitzman, P., 2011, KARRN Newsletter