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USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Invests in the Safety, Health of Farmers

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $836,494 in support for farmer safety and health. Through education, this support aims to help prevent fatalities and serious injuries associated with the farming profession, and provide assistance to those in need.

NIFA awarded six new grants. Three of the projects are state and regional AgrAbility initiatives, and the Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification (YFSEC) Program funded the other three projects.

“The AgrAbility projects address specialized needs of farmers with disabilities through direct agricultural assistance, education, and networking,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The YFSEC projects continue NIFA’s commitment to a coordinated approach to providing agricultural safety and health education for rural youth.”

The AgrAbility program supports partnerships between Cooperative Extension Services and nonprofit disability organizations to educate about farm safety and provide assistive technology solutions to agricultural workers with disabilities and their families. The YFSEC Program supports national efforts to deliver timely, pertinent, and appropriate farm safety education to youth seeking employment or those already employed in agricultural production.

Among the new AgrAbility grants, the Ohio AgrAbility Project will provide farm safety education to multiple agricultural and medical groups, conduct on-farm assessments, provide farmers with disabilities with individualized recommendations about farm accessibility, identify assistive technology providers, and link up farmers through supportive peer networks. Among the new YFSEC program grants, the University of Nebraska Medical Center will lead a project to build upon and strengthen the activities and accomplishments of the Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY).

The following AgrAbility grants totaled $536,494:

  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $180,000
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, $180,000
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, $176,494

The following YFSEC grants totaled $300,000:

  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, $100,000
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, $100,000
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $100,000

Project details for the grants can be found at the NIFA website.

NIFA’s history of supporting AgrAbility projects includes a grant to Penn State University to support the AgrAbility in Pennsylvania project. Since 1995, this project has provided direct services to over 750 agricultural producers in the state. The NIFA-funded YFSEC program has supported development and implementation of Safety in Agriculture for Youth since 2014. This multi-institution, multi-state project enhanced accessibility to quality youth farm safety curricula. More than 18,000 youth from 46 states, most under 18 years of age, have enrolled in farm safety online training through SAY, and close to 9,000 youth have completed the training to date.

NIFA’s AgrAbility program resulted in direct on-farm assistance and education about prevention of secondary injuries to more than 11,900 farmers with disabilities since 1991. It has also provided indirect services, such as referrals and farm safety education, to thousands more. Farmers with disabilities who participated in the AgrAbility program report significantly greater quality of life and independent living and working than do agricultural workers with disabilities who have not received services from State or Regional AgrAbility Projects. Greater quality of life and independent living increase the likelihood that a farmer with disability and his or her family will stay involved in production agriculture.

NIFA’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and extension to solve societal challenges. NIFA’s investments in transformative science directly support the long-term prosperity and global preeminence of U.S. agriculture. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural sciences, visit, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @USDA_NIFA, #NIFAImpacts.

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