Remember the farm crisis? It's no longer front page news, but it never really ended. Foreclosures continue to push farmers off their land, and state hotlines are busier than ever. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the plight of America's small farms, and why getting rid of the rural economy might just save them.
The American farm crisis was big news in the '80s, as farms went under, stores closed, and families lost their way of life. But don't think that just because the stories have stopped the crisis is over. Economists say things are as bad as ever for the small farmer. Joel Dyer, editor of the Boulder Weekly, tells Steve Paulson that the farm crisis can be traced back to the economics of the 1970s, as money lenders encouraged farmers to take on debt. When land values suffered in the 1980s, he says, the farmers suffered too.SEGMENT 2:
Abandoning a farm isn't just leaving a place, it's leaving a way of life and generations of memories. John Hildebrand has traced the history of his wife's family farm outside Rochester, Minnesota in "Mapping the Farm: The Chronicle of a Family." He tells Jim Fleming that after four generations the family is still on the farm, but its future is uncertain. Daniel Kemmis is director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and former mayor of Missoula, Montana. He's known for having once told the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture there is no such thing as "the rural economy." He tells Judith Strasser that the economies of city and country are inseparable.SEGMENT 3:
Writer Jane Brox has a very personal view of this situation. Though she left her family farm in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts to attend college, she later returned to share the burden of farming with her aging parents and her older brother. She talks with Jim Fleming about her memories of the family and the farm, and reads excerpts from her book "Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family."
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