Farming… The Most Virtuous Gamble

Tough times never last, Tough people do!

There are few words to describe the feeling you get as you listen to someone explain how they lost everything. It is very difficult to share emotions like pain, fear, and heartache, especially among the toughest breed of them all… the American farmer.

I will confess, being a product of the 90s, I knew very little of the farm crisis. Even coming from a family with strong agricultural roots, it simply wasn’t something that was talked about, but rather one of those dreadful memories that stays tucked away, as was the case for many Iowa farm families.

Farm crisisYesterday evening I attended the premiere of a new Iowa Public Television documentary entitled, “The Farm Crisis.” It is truly one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, and does a magnificent job capturing such a monumental piece of agriculture’s history. As I sat there in the theater watching history unfold before more, I realized that I was surrounded by many of those individuals appearing on the screen sharing their story. I have experienced few things more moving than sitting next to an old weathered man, fighting back tears as he relives the trials and tribulations that his family, neighbors, and community members endured through some of agriculture’s most challenging years.

I would highly encourage anyone and everyone to take the time to watch this amazing documentary, but most importantly, share it with your children. This is more than just a captivating story, it’s a piece of history, and one that is all too often left untold. However, we have a responsibility to learn from the past so that the next generation can help prevent a modern-day Farm Crisis. I have included information about the documentary below including: a summary of the film, an extended video preview, and details about when it will be aired.

About the film…

The Farm Crisis is a 90-minute film produced by Iowa Public Television that examines the economic and personal disasters that afflicted the agriculture sector in the 1980s. Narrated by NBC News reporter Harry Smith, The Farm Crisis examines the tragic circumstances faced by farmers for most of the 1980s, when thousands were forced into bankruptcy, land values dropped by one-third nationally, and sky-high interest rates turned successes into failures seemingly overnight. Original music by Iowa-based recording artist Chad Elliott sets the tone throughout the program.

The program features interviews with policymakers, business owners, economists, and farm families, including Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Charles Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin, former Rep. Jim Leach, the late Mark Pearson, former Sen. Tom Daschle, economist Neil Harl, and recording artist and Farm Aid Founder Willie Nelson.

Beyond the economic story, the program tells of the emotional toll facing those whose livelihoods depended on farming. Some broke under the strain of economic disaster – in some cases, even committing murder or suicide. Communities fractured, friendships ended, and identities were lost. But amid the tragedy, viewers will see stories of hope, as well: men and women who fought loyally to help some families save their farms; activists who rallied for action; and even music legends who got together to raise money to help.

Watch it on Iowa Public Television: Monday, July 1st at 8pm (CT); Friday, July 5th at 11pm (CT); Wednesday, July 10th at 7pm (CT); and Friday, July 19th at 8:30pm (CT).

Extended preview:

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