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Revisiting Chanarambie Township
By Mark Steil
Minnesota Public Radio
August 31, 2001

The 1980's will be remembered as one of the more difficult decades for Minnesota farmers. Land prices dropped, interest rates went up and farmers were caught in the middle. Back in 1986, Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Steil interviewed seven farmers. They were neighbors living in Chanarambie Township, a farming community in southwestern Minnesota's Murray County. Some raised corn and soybeans, others were dairy farmers, one raised sheep. They talked in a very personal way about the farm crisis and how it was affecting their farms and their families. Here are excerpts of the conversations Mark had with those farmers.

Marlyn Bootsma, a farmer in Chanarambie Township in southwestern Minnesota's Murray County.
(MPR Photo/Mark Steil)
  • Marlyn Bootsma was the narrator of the Chanarambie Township documentary which aired April 2, 1986. It was his idea to have a reporter interview him and six of his neighbors about the impact the farm crisis was having on them. Bootsma raised pigs and milked dairy cows on his farm.
    He talks about his neighbors.
    He talks about his own situation.

  • Ed Heard. Fifteen years ago, Heard and his wife were milking 50 cows on their 400 acre farm. They were in their early 30s and raising three children. Heard says he was struggling to pay the interest on the farm debt and keep up with the massive work load. Listen.

  • Gene Schuld. He operated a dairy farm in Chanarambie Township in 1986. When we interviewed him 15 years ago he said he loved farm life and the work, but dreaded the monthly meetings with his banker.Listen.

  • Bob Ossefort took over the family farm when his parents retired in 1982. Back in 1986, he was raising sheep as well as milking cows and growing crops on l60 acres of land in Chanarambie township. Listen.

  • Merle Heard told us things were going pretty well for him on the farm until 1982, when interest rates skyrocketed. By 1985 he had called it quits. Heard sold most of his farm equipment and turned the operation over to his son. Listen.