To Serve and Support

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson October 3, 2017 11:55


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We are all painfully aware of the potential for injury and death on farms, and while education and improved safety measures are in place, accidents still happen.  Farmers and ranchers in the United States rank second among laborers with disabilities from work-related injuries, and since 1991 the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has assisted thousands of people with disabilities (including older farmers and veterans) through their AgrAbility program.  In Missouri another idea for helping disabled farmers began in 2005.  Jackie Allenbrand originally ran PHARM Dog USA within AgrAbility, but set off in 2012 to become a standalone nonprofit when she knew she had enough time to dedicate to running the program.

As a facilitator, Allenbrand connects with breeders, trainers, shelters and potential clients to custom train and place dogs on farms.  Because the needs are so specific for both the farmer and environment, training can be costly and time-consuming.  Each dog can take up to two years and several thousand dollars to train.  PHARM’s dogs come under two main categories:  herding dogs (mostly Border Collies) and service dogs (primarily Labradors or Lab-mixes).

These service dogs are trained in basic service skills at the shelter, followed by more specific training by people who are certified to give instruction geared towards a farmer’s special needs.  Some of the tasks that these dogs have learned are:

  • Herd cattle to verbal commands
  • Act as a counterbalance for their handlers
  • Pick up tools, gloves, buckets, etc.
  • Open gates
  • Get help in case of emergency

In January of this year, the USDA announced the availability of $540,000 in funding for state and regional projects that provide education, technology assistance and other support to both prospective and current farmers and ranchers with disabilities.  Let’s hope that more undertakings similar to PHARM develop to keep farmers farming – no matter what their personal challenges are.

Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team



Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson October 3, 2017 11:55
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