Fall Harvest Sept 2018

FALL HARVEST

D6

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2018

AgrAbility assists disabled farmers and rancher Program helps woman stay active on farm

By GEORGE HAWS george.haws@ nptelegraph.com

Linda Loostrom is still working on her family’s ranch north of Gothen- burg, thanks to AgrAbil- ity, an organization that provides adaptive equip- ment for farmers and ranchers with disabilities. When Loostrom was 1 year old, she had polio, a crippling viral disease no longer present in the U.S. The lasting effects made it difficult for her to walk normally. Still, she func- tioned and worked, until about a year ago. It can be tough stepping through tall grass, she said. After she had a few falls her husband, David, said, “No more.” Linda was used to checking cattle, spraying musk thistles in the pastures and doing other things that needed to be done. She couldn’t see herself staying in the house, she said. Loostrom said she learned about AgrAbility through RFD television channel. The program helps people, like her, who suffer from debilitating diseases or have been in- jured in farm accidents. Farmers and ranchers “don’t rehabilitate as well as some,” she said. Agriculture is “what they know” and “that’s what they’ve done.” They have the added concern of what to do with land and equip- ment if a disability forces them to look for alternate employment, she said. “Sometimes it only takes a little equipment and a little technology” to keep a person on the farm or ranch, said Rod Peterson, the program manager for Nebraska AgrAbility. AgrAbility operates all over the country. Money for state projects is allo- cated by the U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture, and is part of the Farm Bill. Nebraska AgrAbility op- erates through a partner- ship with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Easter Seals of Nebras- ka. Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation provides money for equipment and assistive technology. “They are our primary funder,” said Peterson. AgrAbility helped Loos- trom purchase a 4-wheel drive utility vehicle. “My occupational ther- apist went with me” to pick it out, she said, and they found one that has a wider opening, easier to get into, than others. It’s a lot easier to get into than a pickup, she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to keep helping,” on the ranch without it. She received the vehicle in August 2017 and has put 827 miles on it, very few of which were road miles. AgrAbility also provided a sprayer that sits in the bed of the vehicle and has a hand-held wand that Loostrom operates from and building at Husker Harvest Days, Case IH continues to introduce new products that contin- ue its reputation of revolu- tionizing the agricultural industry. “We like to launch our products in the fall,” Pomerantz said. “We really find at Case IH that the interaction you get with customers as they see the new products and talk with our experts here is one of the most bene- ficial things that we get. We are all excited to talk with people. We really get a nice combination of expertise at one spot, at one time.” CASE from Page 5

George Haws / The North Platte Telegrap Linda Loostrom, who suffers from the effects of polio , continues to work with her husband, David, and son Perry, on their ranch north of Gothen- burg. AgrAbility helped her purchase a 4-wheel drive utility vehicle and a sprayer that sits in the back. She is able to drive through the pastures an spray musk thistles with the hand-held wand, check cattle and help with other chores. AgrAbility helps farmers and ranchers with physical disabilitie obtain adaptive equipment so they can continue to work.

Peterson. There are other examples on the National AgrAbility website, at agrability.org/toolbox. Peterson said the pro- gram has been in Nebras- ka since 1995 and has served 550 clients in every county. People can read success stories online at agrability.unl.edu. Still, a lot of people, especially in western Nebraska, have never heard of AgrAbility. Peterson said he hopes that changes. For more information about Nebraska AgrAbili- ty, people can call 800-471- 6425 or 402-984-3819.

the seat, to spray musk thistles in the pastures. “It’s been very helpful,” she said. “It’s wonderful.” Nebraska AgrAbility also provides hydrau- lic chutes for ranchers who are unable to oper- ate manual chutes. An overhead bin eliminated scooping for a disabled rancher in western Ne- braska. Hand brakes and clutches, gate modifica- tions and hydraulic lifts for combines and tractors are other adaptations that allow farmers and ranchers to keep doing what they do best, said

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