A documentary titled “The Farm Crisis” will make its premiere tonight at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines. The broadcast premiere is set for next Monday at 8 p.m. on Iowa Public Television. The 90-minute film documents the tragedy farmers faced during the 1980s, as thousands were forced into bankruptcy by sky-high interest rates.
Iowa State University Economist Neil Harl was involved in the project from the start. He wrote a book, published in 1990, called The Farm Debt Crisis of the 1980s. “It was very painful period,” Harl says.
“Every time I pick up the book I wrote about it, it makes me unhappy and angry that we couldn’t do more. There were a lot of people who were financially stressed and lost their farms that, in many cases, had been in the family for a very long time.” Harl traveled to Washington, D.C. several times during the decade and recalls it was “extremely difficult” to get people in the nation’s capital to understand the seriousness of the problem.
“The problem was, basically, too much debt,” Harl says. “I think, as a country, we need to realize that and whenever that begins to get out of hand, we need to be sure we have sent the message that we need to be very careful in not getting over extended.”
In addition to the televised premiere Monday night, the show will re-air on IPTV at on July 5 at 11 p.m., July 10th at 7 p.m., and July 19th at 8:30 p.m.