March 5, 1999 | By: Mark Eclov

The Kentucky AgrAbility Program has received an $8,000 donation from the United States Tobacco Manufacturing company that will be used to help disabled farmers regain their independence and work potential.

The Kentucky AgrAbility Project is a division of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service that provides educational and technical assistance to farm families facing the challenges of a disability. The gift is the largest private donation ever received by the Project.

The funding is being used to purchase a federal surplus tractor. The tractor will be retrofitted with various mechanical aides that can allow disabled farmers to gain full use of this critical farm implement.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau has provided an additional $500 that will be used to purchase a trailer to tow the tractor to major events such as the national farm machinery show and various commodity field days around the state.

"We have had the various tools used to modify the tractor for some time," said John Hancock, director of the AgrAbility Project. "But we had to ask a local dealer to supply a tractor every time we wanted to show the equipment at a major event."

"In most instances it takes a full day to adapt all the equipment to a particular tractor," added Hancock. "Not only does this make us more efficient to set up for a field day, but it provides us with the capacity to take it out to individual farms on a regular basis."

A farm visit with the specially adapted tractor may be used to persuade a disabled farmer that he or she can resume most or all of the normal chores done on this important farm implement. It could also be used to assure a local farm lender that the disabled farmer could continue to carry out all the required work to keep the farmstead running at a profitable level.

And the interest in these new technologies is growing. Hancock estimates that twelve to fifteen percent of Kentucky's farm population has to deal with some form of disability.

"And as our farm population continues to age, some subtler physical problems such as hip replacements and arthritis may require equipment modifications that will allow farmers to maintain their normal work load," said Hancock.

Individual producers or farm groups interested in having the demonstration tractor brought to their area are urged to contact their local Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service county agent for agriculture to schedule a visit.

-30-

Contact: 

Writer: Mark Eclov
(606)257-7223

Source: John Hancock
(606)-257-1845