Since 1991, AgrAbility of Wisconsin and the Easter Seals (ES) FARM program have recommended agriculture-related assistive technology to WI farmers with health conditions that affect their ability to continue farming. These pieces of equipment range from new skid loader controls, to utility vehicles, to added steps for tractors. With the services and resources available through the WI Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, AgrAbility estimates DVR and AAW have helped farmers acquire over 4000 devices or pieces of equipment.
The recommended equipment accommodated the farmer’s work limitation, but as health conditions and farming operations changed, AAW wanted to know if the assistive technology was still being used. And if it is not, could another farmer benefit from the unused technology.
The Easter Seals (ES) FARM program was awarded a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation to study the types of assistive technology recommended, the current utilization and the feasibility of offering unused equipment to other farmers in need.
The study surveyed 178 Wisconsin farmers who had obtained 1102 pieces of machinery recommended by AAW/ ES FARM Program specialists. Out of the 1102, 78 pieces were no longer being used. They still owned 58 of the 78 pieces of equipment and indicated that 31 pieces were available to sell or give away to another farmer with a disability. All but one piece of this was in excellent or good condition.
The study revealed that over 70% of those surveyed had access to the web. This information turned out to be crucial in the development of how to set up an exchange for the unused equipment. After several months of development, the AAW staff and Advisory Council decided on an Internet-based craigslist-style website that allows farmers to post machinery and contact one-another to finalize an exchange or sale. The website can be accessed at http://farm.eastersealswisconsin.com/. Just click on Ag Equipment Exchange on the upper right hand side . Whether selling, buying or giving away, farmers can post to this website free of charge.
If you have equipment you would like to donate or sell, post directly on the website or contact Bruce Whitmore at 1-800-422-2324 for assistance.