They came to Indianapolis form all over- from Alexandria, Indiana, to New Jersey. Everyone who came gathered for the National annual AgrAbility Conference. This marks the 20th year for the program, designed to assist those who have suffered injuries or other ailments and need help in continuing to farm.
Often that help is in the form of finding who makes lifts or other equipment that can get them in and out of combines or on and off tractors. It may also be in the form of helping them find out who can provide therapy for them, and if funding is available for such rehabilitation.
The national effort has been funded as part of the farm bill for the past 20 years. But the idea for the project was born at Purdue University, with the help of long-time safety specialist Bill Filed, who was trying to reach out to help those with injuries who still wanted to make their living doing what they loved to do- farm or raise livestock, or both.
Field was instrumental in starting Breaking New Ground through Purdue, a project aimed at helping people with these needs. Later it was the inspiration for the national program. Field and Purdue remain heavily involved in the AgrAbility effort.
At least 30 of the attendees were actual farmers with disabilities. Many were able to attend because of scholarships offered by the National AgrAbility group. Money for the scholarships was primarily raised through contributions, including both a silent and live auction held during the national conference.Besides sessions on various topics, exhibitors with products or services designed for this audience were also on hand. Some of them brought equipment that they demonstrated outside of the hotel. Companies continue to develop new products for this need, and to adapt technologies from other industries to helping those in agriculture.