After nearly a decade of prosperity, rural America entered the 1980s with its agricultural base facing a severe financial crisis. Land values, export markets and the general demand for agricultural commodities were declining while the levels of indebtedness reached during the 1970s were becoming increasingly difficult to manage. By the middle of the 1980s, the existence of a crisis was apparent in farm failure rates that had reached levels that had not occurred since the 1930s and in the fact that large numbers of agricultural banks were failing and agencies that provide loans to farmers and ranchers were experiencing unprecedented losses. Small towns in agriculturally dependent rural areas were losing businesses, populations and related services, and extremely high rates of socioemotional problems were noted among rural residents in agriculturally dependent areas of the nation.
List of Tables and Figures -- Preface -- Acknowledgments -- Contents -- Introduction /Steve H. Murdock and F. Larry Leistritz -- PART ONE -- THE CONTEXT OF THE CRISIS -- 1 Financial Characteristics of Farms and of Farm Financial Markets and Policies in the United States /F. Larry Leistritz and Steve H. Murdock -- 2 The Structural Characteristics of U.S. Agriculture: Historical Patterns and Precursors of Producers' Adaptations to the- Crisis /Don E. Albrecht and Steve H. Murdock -- 3 Demographic, Socioeconomic and Service Characteristics of Rural Areas in the United States: The Human Resource Base for the Response to the Crisis /Steve H. Murdock, Don E. Albrecht, Kenneth Backman, Rita R. Hamm and Lloyd B. Potter -- PART TWO -- THE CHARACTERISTICS, IMPACTS AND LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS OF THE CRISIS -- 4 The Financial Characteristics of Production Units and Producers Experiencing Financial Stress /F. Larry Leistritz and Brenda L. Ekstrom -- 5 Producer Reactions and Adaptations /F. Larry Leistritz, Brenda L. Ekstrom, Harvey G. Vreugdenhil and Janet Wanzek -- 6 Demographic Characteristics of Rural Residents in Financial Distress and Social and Community Impacts of the Farm Crisis /Steve H. Murdock, Rita R. Hamm, Lloyd B. Potter and Don E. Albrecht -- 7 The Implications of the Current Farm Crisis for Rural America /Steve H. Murdock, Lloyd B. Potter, Rita R. Hamm, Kenneth Backman, Don E. Albrecht and F. Larry Leistritz -- Policy Alternatives and Research Agenda /Steve H. Murdock and F. Larry Leistritz -- Technical Appendix -- References -- Index.