Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
Dameon Berry is a hard-working young man with a lot going on at his Maynardville farm.
Dameon Berry (Union County Producer)
“I’ve got 28 head of cattle, beef cattle, two donkeys, and usually ten to twelve dogs.”
Dameon trains police dogs, and is also a beef producer. But injuries from a past motorcycle accident make it difficult for him to maintain his farm.
“The biggest problem I have is getting hay out to the cattle. I’ve got to hire somebody to come out and drive my tractor, clean up with the tractor. These days pretty much everything you do is with a tractor and I can’t get on and off of it.”
But that may be a problem solved very soon. A generation ago, a producer with a disability or decreasing mobility might have to give up farming. But today there’s a UT and TSU Extension program to help called AgrAbility.
Alan Filyaw (UT Extension)
“They’ve figured out most of the strategies that they need to navigate thru life. But they need a little bit of help.”
Alan Filyaw with UT Extension works with East Tennessee producers thru AgrAbility. The program has assisted more than two thousand farmers since it started in 1994.
“So he can transfer to the chair, lift him up, and pivot him around to the tractor seat.”
Now Alan is working to get a lift installed on Dameon’s tractor.
“If he can get some assisted technology where he can do some work on the farm himself, it will lower the overhead that he has, and all around help him psychologically and financially.”
The AgrAbility program serves Tennessee farmers through a combination of agriculture, engineering and rehabilitation. Sometimes it’s designing equipment for producers, and in other instances, it’s more about peer support.
Joetta T. White (UT Extension)
“That is our main goal to keep them involved with something that they have done for years and years and love doing, and they don’t want to give it up.”
Joetta T. White serves farmers in the western end of the state – producers with thousands of acres, and others with one acre gardens.
Joetta T. White
“With their injury or illness, whether it’s due to a farm-related accident or not, we try to work with them to improve their equipment, give them resources that they can continue to farm with their disability.”
Dameon Berry says being able to work on his tractor will be a great help to his operation. He’s determined to succeed, and if needed, he has help.
NOTE: Other contributing partners in this program include the East Tennessee Access Center, the STAR Center of Jackson, and the USDA. The private company “Life Essentials” does much of the work in transforming farm equipment for disabled producers.