Do you ever think about how the food that you buy in your local supermarket is produced? There are a lot of men and women out there working very hard, often under grueling conditions, to make sure the world is fed.
The daily job of a farmer or a rancher is quite physical, of course. From feeding livestock, to wrestling with large equipment, to mounting and dismounting towering tractors, it’s all based on having a body that is strong and limber.
So what happens when arthritis sets in? Welcome to the National AgrAbility Project.
AgrAbility is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and consists of a National Project and State/Regional Projects, currently serving 24 states, each involving collaborative partnerships between land grant universities and various nonprofit disability services organizations.
The National Project is led by the Breaking New Ground Resource Center at Purdue University in partnership with Goodwill Industries International, the Arthritis Foundation – Indiana Chapter, and University of Illinois-Urban/Champaign. Support, funding, and oversight for AgrAbility come from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The National AgrAbility Project states that its mission is to “enable a high quality lifestyle for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities,” and that includes arthritis. Through education and assistance, AgrAbility helps to eliminate, or at least minimize, obstacles that inhibit success in agriculture production.
“Arthritis affects about a third of adult farmers and ranchers and can cause them some big problems in terms of mobility and ability to manage their operation,” said Sandra Stevenson, case manager for the Oklahoma AgrAbility Project. “The average age of the American farmer is around 57 years old, and many of them are unaware they may be at risk of developing arthritis. And then what happens when they do?”
The AgriaAbility project works with the National Arthritis Foundation offering a seminar titled “Arthritis and Agriculture” across the country that teach safety precautions, work simplification, ergonomic tips and stress reduction techniques to farmers and ranchers.
“Arthritis and Agriculture is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in arthritis to learn about different solutions to help control joint stress and pain in farming and ranching situations,” says Amber Wolfe, who is responsible for all aspects of the Arthritis Foundation’s National AgrAbility Program grant, where she works closely with the 24 states that participate in an AgrAbility Project.
We can certainly applaud the work that the AgrAbility Project and the Arthritis Foundation are doing to assist the valuable people in the agricultural business to remain as healthy as possible. You may also want to view their free PDF Booklet: Arthritis and Agriculture: A Guide to Understanding and Living with Arthritis. Part of work simplification techniques that farmers and ranchers who suffer from arthritis can utilize is using the ergonomic UGLee Pen whenever it’s necessary to write. Keeping hands and fingers stress-free by using a comfortable pen goes a long way toward maintaining the ability to continue physical labor.