The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship


SCSU Journal of Student Scholarship

SCSU Journal of Student Scholarship

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Cory Haala, Saint Cloud State University; Dr. Jason Eden, Saint Cloud State University


The farms and rural communities of Stearns County Minnesota were not spared from the 1980s farm crisis. People in this region experienced the strain of financial stress and reacted to it in distinct ways. This affected the long-term sentiments and societal functioning of these communities long after the economic numbers improved.

These collective and individual experiences of the farm crisis have been inadequately studied therefore scholars have incorrectly assumed that the effects of the crisis ended in 1986 when the economic market showed an upturn. Instead, the effects continued to cause stagnation and a diminishing of rural communities and people in these areas continued to struggle and took much longer to heal from the economic downturn. For many rural residents, they experienced a whole decade of financial and economic turmoil instead of a five-year span from 1981 to 1986.

Scholarship on the 1980s farm crisis is not new, however it has been studied in a very disproportionate manner both geographically and as a field of study. Most existing scholarship focuses on the economic impacts of the crisis at a national level or they narrow down to Iowa. The fields of sociology and community history, which this study will focus on, are lacking on the 1980s farm crisis, particularly in Minnesota. This study will use interviews with local farmers, business owners, and auctioneers to support its analysis. It will also incorporate local newspapers and material at the Stearns County History museum archives.