Clinging to the Land

Hard-pressed farmers face a crisis of mounting debts and dropping prices

American farmers have been crying wolf for so long that their city cousins have mostly stopped listening. But along rural back roads last week, the expressions of anguish seemed genuine. Farmers sometimes differed about the causes of their distress, but they shared a frustration, almost a sense of shame, about their plight.

"You really feel like a failure," says Charles Boehmke, 44, who is clinging to his Minnesota farm after losing his animals and machinery because he could not repay a $136,000 loan. One of his neighbors, David Honsey, 40, filed for bankruptcy and said it made him feel like going...

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