Homeplace Under Fire
The story of the grassroots work of American farm advocates and their 30 year fight to keep family farmers on the land.
The Farm Crisis of the 1980s drove hundreds of thousands of family farmers into foreclosure. Yet, out of that crisis arose a legion of farm advocates who have refused to stand idly by and watch their way of life go up in flames.
Ordinary Americans taught themselves extraordinary skills. As fellow farmers, farm wives, and rural leaders, they studied laws and regulations, started hotlines, answered farmers’ calls from their kitchen tables, counseled their neighbors, and went toe-to-toe with lenders – giving their all to keep neighbors on their land.
Homeplace Under Fire celebrates these advocates and their remarkable work. Thousands of farmers are alive and on their land today because of them. As Willie Nelson says in the film, these advocates are the best of America.
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See the Film
Homeplace Under Fire is being screened at exclusive events around the country and is available on DVD. Stay tuned for your chance to see the film.
Watch Clips from the Film
Meet the farm advocates featured in Homeplace Under Fire:
Linda Hessman has worked as Project Manager and Family Resource Specialist for the Kansas Rural Family Helpline, a non-profit direct service program dedicated to meeting the unique needs of rural Kansas families. She was the first woman to chair the Interfaith Rural Life Committee. She and her husband raise horses near Dodge City, Kansas.
Betty Puckett farms with her husband Pete and their son near Alexandria, Louisiana. She has worked as a farm advocate for decades at the Louisiana Interchurch Conference and has traveled nationwide to train farm advocates. Betty also served as a key response team member for farmers devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Shirley Sherrod is a celebrated civil rights leader and served as Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She continues as Executive Director of the Southwest Georgia Project, which she founded with her husband, Rev. Charles Sherrod, in Albany, Georgia.
Lou Anne Kling farmed with her husband for 25 years. After starting the Minnesota Farm Advocates program, Lou Anne conducted Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) trainings across the country, receiving the Virginia McKnight Binger Award for Human Service. She also served in the 1990s as USDA Deputy Administrator of Farm Loan Programs in Washington, D.C.
Willie Nelson is joined by others, including Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar, to explain the inspiration for starting Farm Aid back in 1985. The video explains how proceeds from that first concert went on to help start Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG), which is a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services and support to family farmers and their communities in order to help keep family farmers on the land.
Benny Bunting counsels between 75 and 100 farmers each year as the farm advocate at RAFI-USA, devoting an average of 60 hours to each client. Ninety percent of the farmers he works with have realized their goals. In addition to his advocacy, he farms today with his son near Oak City, North Carolina.
Mona Lee Brock explains her journey helping farmers. We are forever grateful to Mona Lee and the other advocates who stood—and still stand—with farmers during their most vulnerable times.
A group of farm advocates, who have spent decades helping to keep family farmers on the land, gathered at Farm Aid’s 30th anniversary festival. During the press event, Farm Aid’s executive director Carolyn Mugar, board artists, and farm advocate Joe Schroeder spoke about the tireless efforts of these advocates who have saved so many lives and farms across the country.
Visit homeplaceunderfire.org to learn more about the film.
Our Farm Advocate Link’s mission is to train, support and recruit a new generation of Farm Advocates in service to America’s family farmers. Click here to learn more.
Directed by Charles D. Thompson, Jr.
Produced by Farm Aid
Edited by Brooke Shuman, and Elena Rue and Catherine Orr of StoryMineMedia
Videography by Brooke Shuman, Elena Rue, and Chris Fowler
Still photography by Rob Amberg