Today's American farmers struggle constantly with a financial crisis. News reports chronicle the dreary events— foreclosures, protests, governmental debates, distress sales. There is great pressure on the U.S. government to ease the current farm financial situation, but there is opposing pressure to wean the farm sector from government support, to move agriculture toward a market-oriented economy, and above all, to reduce government outlays. Because the financial crisis permeates the agricultural community, critical choices must be made regarding the role of government in the farm sector, and alternate policies must be conceived. A Perspective on U.S. Farm Problems and Agricultural Policy provides a framework for evaluating national policy alternatives and attempts to improve our understanding of the nature of the farm sector and its problems. The discussion covers important issues such as farm size, the process of dynamic adjustment to changing technology, and financial disruptions associated with periodic land booms and busts. The issues are presented in historical perspective and in relation to past agricultural policies. The authors move to more specific examination of the current financial crisis by looking at various sizes and types of midwest farms. They establish different categories of financial stress in the context of both historical data for the national farm sector and more recent data on individual farms, drawing conclusions about the primary determinants of financial stress and the manner in which individuals are adjusting to it.