A new film, Homeplace Under Fire, produced by Farm Aid—the nonprofit started by Willie Nelson and best known for its annual concert that raises funds and awareness for American farmers—explores the unsung heroes of the farm crisis of the 1980s. They’re called farm advocates and they’ve helped save numberless family farmers facing foreclosure due to forces beyond their control.
A number of factors, including a series of droughts, low crop prices and high production costs, plummeting land values, and bad lending practices, precipitated what would become known as the 1980s farm crisis, which forced hundreds of thousands of farmers into foreclosure and many off of the land their families had owned for generations.
The 30-minute film tells the stories of eight regular folks who stepped up and taught themselves the ins and outs of federal regulations in order to fight against a bureaucratic system—one that had once helped farmers but by the early 80s was pretty much doing the exact opposite—to keep themselves, neighbors, and oftentimes strangers on their farms. Some of the advocates featured started and manned hotlines that not only connected desperate farmers with organizations that could help them, but even went as far as to play double-duty as a suicide hotlines, preventing some callers from ending their own lives. In the film, Nelson calls these unsung heroes “the best of America.”
See more at Modern Farmer.