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Michigan AgrAbility, Rehabilitation Services Partnership Better Helps Farmers

Maybe a genetic disorder is preventing you from getting in the tractor. Or maybe you’re getting older and can’t do all the things you used to do.

Michigan AgrAbility supplies the services to keep farmers farming, but their partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services addresses the physical needs of the individual.

“Farmers who have sustained or incurred a disability, we make sure they’re provided a proper assessment, accommodations needed to be successful and continue to maintain their employment,” says Monica Robins, business relation consultant with Michigan Rehabilitation Services. “We partner with Michigan AgrAbility to look at what the needs are of the individual on the farm.”

Robins says they have in-house occupational therapists to provide worksite assessments or evaluations.

“Together, it’s a melding of the minds to provide the best outcome to support the individual,” she adds.

Ned Stoller is an agricultural engineer with Michigan AgrAbility. For free, he can tour the farm and learn about physical limitations. When it comes to paying for the assistive technology, they make a referral to Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

“If somebody has a disability and can’t do a task, they want you to keep working,” he says. “Based on my expertise with the agriculture industry and their expertise in helping people with disabilities keep working. We can provide tools, equipment, and accommodations and increase a person’s likelihood of success to keep working on the farm with a lot less pain and feel better at the end of the day.”

At the end of the day, Stoller says the partnership is about creating a long-term plan, not just getting through another day.

“Don’t be too proud to call, and don’t worry about it if you don’t think you’re disabled or handicapped—all of us get older and begin to lose functions we’ve had for a long time,” he says. “Being active and continuing to work is very healthy for us in mind, body, and soul. AgrAbility is here to support people wherever they’re at.”