Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project: Interview with Bruce and Liane Lubitz
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Bruce and Liane Lubitz have 3 daughters (aged 12, 11 and 8) and one son (aged 7). When Liane was pregnant with their son, she was diagnosed as having cancer (Hodgkins disease). SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Although the cancer was finally cured, they were left with financial difficulties. Their loan agency (PCA) treated them very harshly during and after Liane's radiation and chemotherapy. They were told that PCA would put them out of business and that if they had anything to do with any agricultural group (American Agricultural Movement (AAM) and COACT at that time) PCA would call in their loan. Their milk and cattle checks were held up and they were left with very little to live on for 2 1/2 years. They themselves went hungry, they could not feed or provide needed veterinary services for their cattle. Their milk production dropped to a small fraction of the previous level and they lost 95% of their calves for 3 years. They were, however, helped by neighbors (with food) and by church collections. Then, in response to their phone call to a number given on the radio for financially distressed farmers needing help, Lou Anne Kling came out to see them. Also, they began tape recording all conversations they had with PCA (to make it impossible for PCA to deny oral promises to the Lubitzs). Although the Farm Advocate Program had not yet begun, Lou Anne Kling's name was known around the state and she was feared by loan officers. She helped them get a deferral from PCA and an operating loan from FmHA(Farmer's Home Administration). Their own financial condition stabilized, the Lubitzs wanted to repay some of the help that they had recieved. Thus when Lou Anne called to tell them about the formation of the Farm Advocate Program, both joined. Liane has since left, but Bruce is still an Advocate. Both now feel pride in having weathered their problems (several magazine articles have been written about their story). Their children, who suffered greatly during the crisis years (stress, depression, low self-esteem) are now happier and their grades are much higher. In addition to telling their own story, the Lubitzs also discuss their experiences as Farm Advocates. In Bruce's first meeting with a new client, he works to build confidence. He emphasizes the farmer-to-farmer relationship, tries to find out where the farmer has been and whether he has any immediate needs (such as food). At the second meeting, he gives the farmer some homework - e.g. looking up information. Then he tries to work out a cash flow proposal and looks at possible changes on the farm, to increase production, etc. If there is a problem loan, he considers deferral or restructuring. Liane suggests going into negotiations with 3 alternative plans on FINLRB to offer the lender. Victories and rewards in Farm Advocacy relate most importantly to farmers' feelings and their lives; matters of self respect, friendship, saving marriages and mental health (Bruce once helped talk a farmer who was threatening suicide into committing himself). The broader situation is changing - from one of simply working for farmers to helping towns, businesses, schools survive. Churches are getting more involved. Other farm groups, such as American Ag. and COACT (with which the Lubitzs were involved) have their place - in organizing demonstrations, allowing frustrations to be vented, getting farmers talking and catching the attention of Washington. But the Farm Advocates Program - working with individual farmers and negotiating with lenders - must still be there. The Program has had astronomical impact; the playing field has been leveled for farmers. The statistics of the effects of the Program should be studied and used. It should not be necessary to have to fight each year for funding anything that has worked as well as the Program; someone should be doing a better job of watching out for it.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
28 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Creation Interviewee: Lubitz, Bruce
Interviewee: Lubitz, Mrs. Liane
Interviewer: Hunter, Dianna
Interviewer: Meter, Ken
Made in [vicinity] Laporte, Hubbard County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in [vicinity] Laporte, Hubbard County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 05/25/1988
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 37
Accession Number AV1991.158.19
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project'

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