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August 2022


The Colorado AgrAbility Project was recently awarded a grant from the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) aimed at supporting the psychosocial wellbeing of Colorado's agricultural workers. The grant focus is on community-based efforts to manage the increasing stresses on farmers and ranchers, using trusted partners to carry out the work. The goal of this rapid response funding will be to provide critical equipment and adaptations in a shorter-than-usual time frame to offer clients more autonomy and support to continue their agricultural livelihoods. AgrAbility will help by assessing, recommending, and assisting in securing AT using CDA funds.

Man - Harvey Cundiff - standing in field with shovel over his right shoulderMr. Harvey Cundiff is a 79-year-old rancher who lives with his wife Linda in Bayview, Colorado. Mr. Cundiff, a lifelong rancher in the area, has been experiencing the effects of aging more noticeably over the past few years. Harvey is one of 11 individuals who have been or will be the recipient of funds from this CDA grant to the AgrAbility Project with emphasis on behavioral health.

The passage of time and repetitive farm related injury have begun to take their toll on Mr. Cundiff. Recently, he has undergone hip replacement surgery and that, along with already arthritic knees, causes poor balance and loss of stamina on farm terrain. Harvey has struggled with dyspnea over time and has a chronic oxygen saturation of only 84%- 85%. He cannot walk his terrain and perform many tasks, such as farmstead inspection, repairs, and livestock feeding. These physical stressors also adversely affected his mental health, resulting in growing depression and despair.

He has engaged in all types of farm and ranch work during his lifetime, but for the last few years has scaled back due to the shortness of breath and lack of stable ambulation on farm terrain. Colorado AgrAbility conducted a farm/ranch assessment for Mr. Cundiff and noted that to improve his production, increase his stamina, enhance work endurance, and improve his state of wellbeing, the purchase of a portable oxygen concentrator was necessary. The home-based concentrator was unable to maintain Harvey's blood oxygen concentration above 90%, the value that his pulmonologist recommended. This level is required so that he can continue to perform farmstead inspections, fence repairs, and ambulation over his terrain. This assistive technology tool is able to correctly address the limitations he deals with and reduce the stress he feels with his farming responsibilities.

The costs of such purchases would be a hardship for this family with the numerous medical expenses they have recently incurred, and it is not otherwise covered by insurance. Utilizing a grant from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, he was able to acquire a portable backpack unit, with a weight of about 6 pounds, that provides 2-5 LPM flow of oxygen. Harvey now says: "Thank You! I haven't had the concentrator very long, but it has shown me how much better life can be. I wore it last Saturday to Pagosa Springs to purchase farm products and never got sleepy on the road. That is a first for quite a long time. I am excited to have it for my ranch work fencing, irrigating, and putting up hay. Before having it, when coming back to the house for lunch, my oxygen had dropped to 84%. Thank you, Jim Craig, Colorado AgrAbility, and the Colorado Department of Agriculture, for giving my life back."

Submitted by Jim Craig