Farmers Fear Bankruptcy During the Great Depression

During the Great Depression, thousands of family farms were lost due to bankruptcy. Farmers could not make payments on loans because the cost of production exceeded their profits. Those who were able to stay in business were in constant fear of losing their farm.


Geraldine Middleswart: "My folks didn't talk about their business, but always, in the back of the mind, they were afraid they would lose the farm, because so many people did at that time, but we saved our farm."

In 1932 farm families watched prices hit extreme lows: 15 cents a bushel for corn, 3 cents a pound for hogs, 2.5 cents for cattle. With prices well below the cost of production, most farmers knew that sooner or later, they might lose everything.

John Vermazen: "Some lost the farm. We had two farms near us that renters would rent. I don't know if those people had originally been land owners, but they were farms you didn't have a chance in a snowstorm of making a living on. People would come and maybe last one or two years and then they'd move on to somewhere else. Nobody particularly looked down on them. They didn't know if they'd be in the same situation themselves soon."

Excerpt from "The People in the Pictures: Stories from the Wettach Farm Photos," Iowa PBS, 2003


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