An Overview of the 1980s Farm Crisis

The 1980s farm crisis impacts farmers, families and communities throughout the country.


The farm crisis of the '80s, it changed rural America forever. The jobs disappeared, the main street businesses closed. And the young people had to go to a city somewhere else to get a job. And so that farm crisis completely altered the fabric of rural America.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, let it be known to all people that by the authority vested in me, Sheriff of Wayne County, and by the order of a special execution issued by the courts, the district court for Wayne County, I will be offering the following for sale.

(music) Their empty faded squares on the wall that once held frames, and the frames once held pictures black and white. Of children running 'round this place, what now are empty rooms, they're the children of my grand folks, my parents and me and my wife. They'll put up one more white cross today. This time for my family's century farm. It took everything deep down in me just to keep those tears inside, like a dry well from which we must move on. I am like a dry well from which we must move on. But I'll cry one tear for what was lost. And I'll cry for the pride that was torn. We spent all our lives and all our money just to try to pay the cost of being farmers cut out in the storm.

Excerpt from "The Farm Crisis," Iowa PBS, 2013


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