Bitter Harvest

"There Is a Sadness on the Land"

As the 1986 harvest begins, the twin plagues of drought and overabundance have dealt yet another blow to America's stricken farmers. In the following pages, TIME's Hugh Sidey looks at the ravaged Southeast and the surfeit in his native Midwest; a moving letter from a North Carolina farmwife reveals the personal anguish of a lifetime of work that ends in bankruptcy; and a worldwide assessment of the farm dilemma shows why it is proving so intractable.

Michael Carey, 32, is an Iowa farmer and poet ("The thing about farming is there is nothing between you and the world") who one day...

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