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New IPTV documentary tells story of 1980s farm crisis

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 11:22 a.m. CDT

JOHNSTON — Statewide, Iowa Public Television announces the premiere broadcast of “The Farm Crisis,” a 90-minute original program that examines the economic and personal disasters that afflicted the agriculture sector in the 1980s. The program will debut 8 p.m. Monday.

Narrated by NBC News reporter Harry Smith, “The Farm Crisis” examines the 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.

After Monday’s premiere, “The Farm Crisis” will also air 11 p.m. July 5, 7 p.m. July 10 and 8:30 p.m. July 19 on Iowa Public Television.

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