Joseph Fetter (9) of Chelsea holds a picture of his father, Phil. Mr. Fetter killed himself on July 25, 1982, knowing he was going to lose his farm.
Pat Graham and her daughter, Holly. Dick, Pat and their four children live in poverty. They used to farm in Dickens.
Jerry and Candie Nelson (below) of Spencer, Iowa at their farm auction. They have two sons, Thad (10) and Josh (8). Jerry lost his machinery at the auction, but he’ll continue to farm on his father’s land.
Dave talks to his banker during lunch break.
The banker doing an inventory of equipment and livestock. The Dumonts are trying to negotiate a settlement of their debt with the bank to avoid bankruptcy.
Linda drove out to the fields to bring her husband, Dave, the latest news from the banker.
The Dumont family of Wellman, Iowa, is fighting to keep their farm.
Jason (14) and Rodney (12) help their father.
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"It's pure hell, I'll tell you." -Dave Dumont

Dave and Linda Dumont have raised hogs and grown corn for fifteen years. Dave is the fourth generation to work the land.

Family farming is more than a job to them. It is a way of life that mixes long hours of hard work with close family living linked to their strong religious values.

All three children help on the farm. Jason (14) and Rodney (12) work in the fields and have their own hogs to raise.

The Dumonts are in financial trouble. All year they have been fighting to keep their farm.

They, like thousands of other family farmers are caught in a credit crunch. High interest rates, a sharp decline in the value of farm land, low commodity prices, and a very strong dollar have all contributed to this crisis.

Dave and Linda owe more than their net worth. High interest rates plus low prices get them deeper in debt every year. The bank has been pressing them daily to liquidate.

Their financial problems have caused family pressures. ("We fight more now."). The children are wondering about their futures. Jason isn't sure he wants to farm. "I don't know if I want to go through all this."

In Iowa, farm children are under stress. Joan Blumdall of the Northwest Iowa Mental Health Center in Spencer notes, "Many are withdrawing from school and social activities. Depression and teen suicides have increased."

"Its pure Hell, I'll tell you", Dave remarked in July after the bank took all his hogs.

"He (the banker) may have taken my hogs and most of my machinery but he's not going to put me out of business. I'm too damn tough for that."

What about family stress?

"Things are getting better on the home-front. We're getting adjusted to the fact that we've lost most of the stuff and can't do anything about it."

But..."We're going to pick up the pieces and start over again....We lost all the livestock, but I've got a job next fall driving the school bus and I will plant crops." Linda is already working two jobs: she drives a school bus and works at a nursery.

Dave adds, "We ain't going to have very damn much but come hell or high water, I fully intend to be here next year."