SOURCE: Goodwill Industries International

November 12, 2008 08:00 ET

Purdue Grant Will Help Farmers With Disabilities Adapt, Cultivate New Skills

ROCKVILLE, MD--(Marketwire - November 12, 2008) - Purdue University has awarded Goodwill Industries International, Inc.® a four-year AgrAbility grant, $130,000 per year, as part of its Breaking New Ground (BNG) Outreach Program to support self-sufficiency and independence for rural residents who have disabilities. The grant, which is part of the USDA AgrAbility Program, will enable Goodwill to provide Information and referrals for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers with disabilities, as well as their families, so that they can continue to lead successful careers in production agriculture and farming or in another chosen field.

"Through the AgrAbility grant, Goodwill agencies will help people with disabilities who own and work on America's farms and ranches to obtain information and support they need to continue to be engaged in their careers of choice," says Jim Gibbons, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "Goodwill's goal is to provide the support farmers and other rural residents need to continue to work on their land or transition to other employment so that they can continue to support themselves and contribute to their families and communities."

Agriculture consistently ranks as one of the nation's most dangerous occupations. Each year, 90,000 agricultural workers sustain disabling injuries in work-related accidents. People eligible for AgrAbility services may have any type of disability -- physical, cognitive or sensory.

Each AgrAbility project is a collaborative partnership between a land grant university and one or more nonprofits in 27 states nationwide. In 22 of those 27 states, Goodwill's independent, community-based organizations will join with other local providers to provide assistance with accessible job placements and other services for farmers with disabilities in their hometowns. Goodwill's focus will be on unfunded states that don't currently have AgrAbility projects. Goodwill will also choose three states each year where AgrAbility does not exist to provide training on how the project supports farmers and ranchers. The states chosen for training in 2009 are Arizona, Maine and Oregon.

Authorized under the 1990 Farm Bill, AgrAbility has fostered the growth of knowledge and expertise on how to accommodate disability in agriculture through public awareness, and training sessions for thousands of agricultural, rehabilitation and health professionals. AgrAbility has become one of rural America's most valuable and cost-effective resources, having provided on-farm assessments to more than 15,000 farmers and ranchers with disabilities since it was funded in 1991.

"Our goal is to offer education, technical assistance, and resource referrals to farmers, ranchers and farmworkers with disabilities so that they can once again be economically independent," says Gibbons.

To find your local Goodwill, visit www.goodwill.org, or call (800) 664-6577.

To learn more about AgrAbility, visit www.agrability.org

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