Conclusion

As society, especially in rural communities, becomes increasingly inclusive and access to technology becomes more affordable and reliable, the uniqueness of seeing a person with a severe disability working in agricultural production will likely disappear. Vigorous, labor intensive-tasks that a few years ago required two strong arms and legs and a strong back are being rapidly taken over by highly automated machines or replaced entirely by changing agricultural practices, such as the introduction of new herbicides to control weeds. Farmers with missing limbs are compensating with specialized devices that are finding their way into the toolboxes of able-bodied farmers because they make tasks easier to accomplish for everyone. Ranchers with spinal cord injuries are gaining access to and operating large self-propelled pieces of agricultural equipment with the same ease they have in accessing and operating their modified vans. The question is no longer, "Is it possible?" but rather, "How much does it cost and when will it be available?"

If the trend continues toward an increasingly older rural and farm population, the issues of disability within this work force will become even more significant. There will be a need for changes in public policy to ensure adequate funding along with innovative ways to ensure that the rehabilitation needs of this population are not neglected.

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