Agricultural Technology Helps Keeps Farmers With Disabilities In The Field
Nov26

Agricultural Technology Helps Keeps Farmers With Disabilities In The Field

A study recently published in The Journal of Agriculture Safety and Health is shedding light on a community of farmers not often discussed. According to this study, as many as one in five farmers in the United States has a disability. The umbrella of disability in this study is a wide one. For that 20% figure, researchers included disabilities that impacted the farmers’ physical health, senses, or cognition. To combat the obstacles farmers with disabilities face, a wide variety of assistive agricultural technology exists. These technologies include four-wheel-drive golf carts, auto-locking tractor hitches, and smart tech connected to smartphones. Agricultural equipment companies have been making traditional tractors for decades. Legacy companies like Kubota have been making agricultural equipment since 1890 and commercially developed Japan’s first farm tractor. However, assistive modifications to tractors have been appearing much more recently. One of the most significant modifications is motorized tractor lifts. Ed Bell is just one farmer who uses those lifts in the day-to-day operation of his hog farm in Indiana. Bell was shot in 1982 and paralyzed from the torso down. He’s able to successfully work his farm today with his electric wheelchair outfitted with off-roading treads, another wheelchair that allows him to stand, and mechanical lifts that he can operate by hand to get in and out of his tractors. Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act and a growing empathy for differently abled Americans, modern workplaces have become much more accessible in the past few decades. However, many farmers are self-employed, which means it’s up to them to find accessibility solutions. These solutions can have a wide range of benefits. Researchers from Exeter University’s School of Psychology recently found that employees who have control over the design and layout of their workspace are up to 32% more productive — not to mention happier and healthier at work. Of course, funding these changes and purchasing specialty equipment can be a major barrier. Agricultural is an industry infamous for being a bit cash-strapped, but a federally-funded program called AgrAbility has been helping farmers with disabilities get the assistance they need for almost 25 years. AgrAbility features an entire Assistive Technology Database, which is an index of over 1,400 vetted solutions for a variety of problems. There are many easy-grip hand tools for those with arthritis, telescoping technology to tend to fruit trees, and an array of customized tractor lifts, cranes, and cherrypickers. Providing all of this modified technology is essential in making sure that the agricultural industry is able to sustain its part in the national economy. In 2015, farms contributed approximately $136.7 billion of the U.S. gross domestic product, or...

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New Treatment For Peanut Allergy Is Successful For 2 Out Of 3 Sufferers
Nov23

New Treatment For Peanut Allergy Is Successful For 2 Out Of 3 Sufferers

Researchers have found that two-thirds of peanut-allergic children participating in a study were able to consume the equivalent of two peanuts without any symptoms after completing an experimental treatment regiment that lasted for months. The results of the study were published on Nov. 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s Annual Scientific Meeting. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Brian Vickery, the new treatment is not a cure. It does not make the allergy go away in any sense or allow children with a peanut allergy to eat whatever they want. However, as 7.6% of American children have at least one food allergy, Dr. Vickery admits that this discovery is no small feat. Currently, there are no treatment options for food allergies of any kind, especially for any kind of peanut allergy, that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Tree nut allergies alone affect about 3 million Americans of all ages. California-based biopharmaceutical company Aimmune Therapeutics Inc. made the experimental treatment and is planning to submit an application for marketing approval to the FDA this December. The FDA has already categorized the treatment as qualified for an expedited approval process. According to Vickery, while the treatment proved effective primarily with children, he expects that adults would benefit in similar ways. As of 2016, 5.3% of children aged 12 to 17 years has food allergies in the past year. The study used the experimental therapy on a similar age group. A total of 10 countries recruited 554 participants with a peanut allergy who ranged in age between four and 55, but 496 of those participants were between the ages of four and 17. The treatment is an oral immunotherapy, as it comes in a powder-filled capsule. That powder is essentially peanut powder, as the idea behind the treatment is to gradually expose patients to the same thing they are allergic to. Giving patients an opportunity to successfully treat their food allergy can be life-changing. For children especially, it means that they can lead more normal lives and not have to take precautions that allergy-free children do not. Allergic reactions can be so severe that sufferers may need hospitalized and run the risk of dying from exposure. These dangers have even led to the prevalence of food allergy lawsuits under the umbrella of personal injury cases, 96% of which are settled pre-trial. In a food allergy lawsuit, any number of different parties could be liable for injuries. They typically involve the mistake of a patron being served the wrong food dish that contains a food...

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Growing Number of Americans Developing Hearing Loss, Experts Say
Nov20

Growing Number of Americans Developing Hearing Loss, Experts Say

About 15% of adults ages 18 and older have some form of trouble hearing, but according to experts, this number may be growing at an unprecedented rate. “There is a disability not visible to the eye. Our neighbor, our friend, someone in our family, or a stranger we pass in a store may have this disability. This disability can be misdiagnosed as the beginning stages of dementia but sometimes we blame inattention as the malady,” writes Beth Harrison on Hattiesburg American. Then again we might blame sheer stubbornness rather than the true culprit — hearing loss.” Harrison continues by citing a shocking statistic from the DeafandHoH website: 15% of Americans ages 15 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss, but not as a result of a birth defect — as a result of prolonged exposure to loud sounds. However, it’s not at all uncommon for cases of partial or high frequency hearing loss to go on undiagnosed for a long period of time. According to a 2017 Kaufman Hall survey, one-quarter of U.S. hospitals and health systems say they hope to decrease costs by 1% to 5% over the next five years, and while there have been multiple breakthroughs in medical science regarding hearing implants, diagnosing the issue is the first step to finding the right treatment solution. There are a number of signs and signals you should look for in your loved ones and even yourself that can indicate an underlying hearing problem. These signs include… The ‘Everyone is Mumbling’ Excuse While some people do mumble, chances are, not everyone around you is. If you feel like people always seem to be talking too quietly, chances are, it’s your ears that are the problem. This may be difficult because it’s often accompanied by feelings of frustration and even exclusion from being unintentionally left out of conversations. Out of Place Laughter It may seem strange, but on the other hand, laughing is sometimes used as a coping mechanism for hard-of-hearing individuals. If the person is laughing at unexpected or uncalled for times, they could be suffering from hearing loss. This is their way of trying to respond to social cues in order to feel more engaged with the conversation. Constant Repetition Finally, if you’re consistently having to repeat yourself in discussions, the person on the other end of the conversation may have some form of hearing loss. This is especially the case if you have to repeat the same responses multiple times in a row. Ultimately, hearing loss is something that anyone can cope and live comfortably with. Recognizing the issue is the first step to finding the best...

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Papa Gino’s And D’Angelo Restaurant Chains Across New England Abruptly Close
Nov13

Papa Gino’s And D’Angelo Restaurant Chains Across New England Abruptly Close

News broke on Monday, November 5 that the parent company of Papa Gino’s Pizzeria and D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches had filed for bankruptcy, following the unexpected closure of 95 locations over the weekend. According to the news release from parent company PGHC Holdings, they filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in order to sell both restaurant chains. PGHC Holdings, a Massachusetts-based company, said the locations closed over the weekend were under-performing. In the news release, the company also revealed that it is selling both restaurant chains to Wynnchurch Capital. PGHC is hoping that by selling Papa Gino’s and D’Angelo, the chains’ finances would be strengthened and they would be able to remodel and expand. “For some time, we have been pursuing a plan to strengthen our financial footing and secure capital for investment in our restaurants, while also addressing our significant debt load,” said Chief Financial Officer Corey Wendland. While it seems that the company knew which locations were going to be shut down, many of them closed without warning and left customers and employees confused. Employees of both Papa Gino’s and D’Angelo went to work over the weekend, but found out that they had no jobs when they got there. The restaurant industry is estimated to create about 1.6 million jobs by 2027, but with closings of major chains like this more people seem to be left without jobs than with them. In the case of Keith Thibotot, a general manager at the D’Angelo in Seekonk, MA, he was getting ready to open the restaurant on Sunday when he got a call from other locations of the chain. They told him Seekonk was on the list, and then a representative from PGHC was at his door asking if Thibotot could help shut down the location permanently. According to the news release, there are 100 Papa Gino’s restaurants and 78 D’Angelo restaurants still operating and open for business throughout New England. There is just one Papa Gino’s Pizzeria left in all of Connecticut after the weekend of abrupt closings. Messages on the doors of other locations simply said that they were now permanently closed and offered a coupon to use at the one open restaurant. Phone calls resulted in a similar message with no real explanation for confounded...

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As Interest Rates Rise, Mortgages Are Becoming Unaffordable For Homeowners And Buyers
Nov02

As Interest Rates Rise, Mortgages Are Becoming Unaffordable For Homeowners And Buyers

This fall has seen higher interest rates hitting homeowners hoping to refinance their mortgages as well as new homebuyers looking to get into the housing market. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index, applications to refinance a mortgage increased by 10% for the week but were 32% lower than they were a year ago. At that time, mortgage interest rates sat at a full percentage point lower. Fewer borrowers have been able to take advantage of refinancing because they are locked into lower rates from a few years ago. The high interest rates today make it impractical and impossible to refinance, yet many homeowners have financial difficulties with their mortgage. About 63% of homeowners are delinquent in payments of their mortgage and are not aware that mortgage lenders can offer services to individuals struggling with their payments. Even these services, which often resemble refinancing, may not be a possibility for some. For those who wish to take cash out of their homes, they are more likely to opt for a second home equity loan, rather than losing their low interest rate. Those looking to buy a home are still showing a strong interest, but the affordability of mortgages has weakened considerably. The first half of this year saw a very short supply of homes for sale, driving prices up. As that situation righted itself and more supply entered the market during the summer, home sales dropped steadily. According to Zillow, the higher home prices and rising rates have caused the monthly payment on the average home to rise 15% higher than it was a year ago. And it’s anticipated that home prices will continue to rise anywhere from 2% to 6% over the next several years. Builders of new homes are especially feeling this drop in home sales. The industry expected sales to slow as prices rose in the first part of the year, but the rate of sales was well below what they had predicted. Compared with August, sales of newly built home fell 5.5% in September and were 13% lower than they were at this time last year. Despite an oversupply of construction materials, builders are slowing down on projects. Demand for homes still seems fairly strong among buyers, but affordability and rising mortgage rates have combined to make interested parties wary. Buyers may avoid investing in a home as long as these prices rise. With the variety of associated costs with moving into a new home and with the unexpected costs, customers are erring on the side of caution. After all, a rule of thumb of moving is to add an extra 25% more moving materials than you think is necessary. If homebuyers aren’t careful during...

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Lowe’s Leaves Florida Family Hanging After Botched Renovation
Nov02

Lowe’s Leaves Florida Family Hanging After Botched Renovation

The Smyth family from Tampa, Florida have been battling the home improvement giant Lowe’s as they seek compensation for a home in which they can no longer live. Three years ago the family paid Lowe’s $83,00 in full and upfront to remodel their kitchen and flooring. Today they’ve had to gut almost their entire home. Only a few months into the renovation job, Rick Smyth saw that the grout was bubbling up. This issue morphed into mold and moisture problems that affected nearly every other part of their house. Everything but the bedrooms had to be torn out. Despite the fact that the Smyth family paid Lowe’s directly for the renovation, as is detailed in their contract, Lowe’s originally insisted that they bring any problems to the attention of the subcontractor. When a customer hires Lowe’s for a home renovation, they use subcontractors to actually do the work. Jackie Callaway, a consumer investigator, connected this discovery with the improperly installed flooring at the Smyth residence, demonstrating that those who hire Lowe’s for renovations are not paying for Lowe’s employees to do the job. According to the family’s lawyer, Matthew Cogburn, a Lowe’s claims adjuster sent an email putting the blame on the installer. In the reasoning of that email, the installer was under contract with Lowe’s, so the liability sits on them. The email encourages Cogburn to contact the installer’s insurance to resolve the dispute. A spokesperson for Lowe’s claims that all of the subcontractors with whom they work must be licensed, insured, pass background checks, and follow the company’s code of conduct. The company also said that they tend to work directly with customers to resolve any issues they may have with subcontractors. In Tampa, the Scripps station WFTS has been attempting to reach out to Lowe’s for months to get information about the Smyth’s case. After months of no response, Lowe’s now says it is working with the family’s attorney to come to a solution that is fair and reasonable. The subcontractor has directed all questions to Lowe’s and declined to comment on the case. Every year, homeowners remodel over 14.2 million bathrooms and 10.2 million kitchens. To avoid the renovation disaster that struck the Smyth family, homeowners can use websites like that of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation to verify a contractor’s license and check their complaint...

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