The “Farm Crisis Response Council” began in 1984 as a cooperative effort of more than 40 groups and organizations in Nebraska, working together to address the rural crisis in our state. The effort began among the churches, as we responded to the pain and grief felt by individuals, families, and communities who were being asked to bear the burdens of a national agricultural upheaval.
A state-wide call through Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska (IMN) brought all the various groups together who had the experience, interest, expertise or potential to address rural needs. This ecumenical effort brought response from 19 Protestant and Catholic bodies in the state, Joining the effort were farm organizations, lenders,attorney, and farmers, along with such agencies as the Nebraska Department of Agriculture,the Cooperative Extension Division of the University of Nebraska, and a number of others.
The result of this effort was the creation the “Farm Crisis Hotline” in 1984. From the beginning the Hotline has served many farm and ranch families across the state. The Hotline has been in the forefront of addressing a collective response to the continuing crisis in rural Nebraska.
IMN initially brought those 40 groups together in a “Farm Crisis Council” to discuss and determine a collective response to these problems. The Council worked in direct service to distressed rural families and in educational tasks that brought rural and urban folk together for dialogue and mutual support.
Field staff workers were trained to help provide distressed families with support and assistance in their times of need. Most of the field staff were farmers and ranchers themselves who knew first-hand the special needs and difficulties of families affected by the rural crisis. The Field staff presents information, referral and support to farmers and ranchers across Nebraska.
In 1987, a new component of service was added with the “Nebraska Agricultural Debt Mediation Program.” This service allowed borrowers and lenders to come together with the assistance of trained mediators to work toward voluntary agreements. Hundreds of rural families and creditors have found that the mediation process is a much more effective and amicable way to solve their difficulties. The Mediation Program is funded by a grant from the Department of Agriculture.