Escaping 1980 Podcast

ag podcast, AEI podcast. podcast. Widmar. Gloy. AEI Premium



Join Brent, David, and host Sarah Mock as we explore the causes, impacts, and lasting effects of one of the most infamous events in American agriculture history, the 1980s farm crisis. Listen to Escaping 1980 on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. New episodes will be released in November and December 2020.

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Podcast Trailer- Escaping 1980

The 1980s farm financial crisis was a defining moment for a generation of American farmers, leading to record levels of insolvency and a reshaping of the American countryside. Today, the farm economy is struggling yet again. Is this the 1980s all over again? Or is there still time to head off another crisis? Join agricultural economists Brent Gloy and David Widmar as they take us back in time to plot a course to escape the next crisis.

Episode 1 – Are We Reliving the 1980s Farm Crisis?

What happened in the 1980s was neither the first farm financial crisis nor the last, but for many farmers who are alive today, it was the most economically devastating time of their lives. The way we remember the ’80s informs the way we think about today. But to figure out if today is as bad as the 1980s, we have to start by answering a different question… what, exactly, happened during the 1980s?

Episode  2 – The Boom

Every farm crisis is unique, although they all follow a common trajectory of stability, boom, bust and recovery. But where does the “boom” end and the “bust” start? In this episode, we dig into what happened to the farm economy during the 1970s to better understand where we might be headed today. Houston, we have a problem.

Episode 3 – The Slide

In the wider economy, two oil shocks hit the U.S. in the 1970s, leading to economic and political disruption and turmoil. The effect was global, national, regional, and local, and led not only to gas rationing and unprecedented lines at the pump, but also to deep financial and psychological impacts that would nudge the farm economy over the edge.  Wade into the murky waters of the broader U.S. and global economy to understand how causes well outside the agriculture sector started to push an industry at its peak toward a long slide into crisis.

Episode 4 – Bottoming Out

At the lowest points of the 1980s, farmland prices had collapsed by 60% and thousands of farmers were underwater and losing their farms. Excessive leverage and too much financing came up against spiking interest rates, and the combination became incredibly unsustainable. We dig deeper into what today’s more stable farmland prices mean for today’s farm economy, and whether they’re really a good indicator of economic health.

Episode 5 – USDA Steps In

Dig deep into the farm policy response of the 1980s, which represented some of the biggest direct payments and government programs ever attempted in the farm economy, and better understand how today’s farm policies, within the Farm Bill and without, might play out in the coming years.

Episode 6 – Stability

We’re going to put the crisis of the 1980s to bed, understand how the farm economy clawed its way out of peril, and evaluate how close we are today to achieving the same end: stability.  But what exactly does “stability” mean?

Episode 7: Escaping 2020

We’re training our gaze on the horizon, armed with a solid understanding of what happened during the last farm crisis. The 1980s and today are not perfect foils for one another, but there are certainly similarities. And though the differences might offer some comforts, those similarities should give us pause. Dig into where we are now, where the biggest risks lie in for the modern farm economy, and how to prepare your thinking for a less predictable world.