Grim Reapings

A record crop buries farmers

In the 1901 novel The Octopus by Frank Norris, which romanticizes the grain farmer, the villain is buried alive under a mountain of wheat. Across the Midwest, many farmers are increasingly fearful that they are about to be buried financially in a similar fashion. Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed its estimates of record U.S. and world grain production in 1982. In Minnesota and the Dakotas, farmers are stuffing unsold wheat into their sheds, leaving tractors and combines out in the cold. An abandoned coal mine near Quincy, Ill., and an ammunition depot in Hastings,...

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