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Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project: Interview with Lynn Hayes
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Lynn Hayes grew up in Rochell, Illinois; her father was a local business man. Her parents were relatively liberal and socially active and she went into law school with the idea that she would work for underdogs who had inadequate access to the judicial system. After graduating from law school, she worked in the Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance Program, and soon (in 1983) she became involved in farm matters (through Jim Massey). She is now an attorney with FLAG (Farmers' Legal Action Group). SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Lynn Hayes describes how the farm crisis arose: In the 1970s, land prices soared and lenders made loans to farmers without regard for whether they could repay. They even coerced farmers into taking loans larger that they needed or wanted. By 1983, farmers who had borrowed from FmHA (Farmers' Home Administration) were having difficulties. FmHA had been designated in part as a social welfare agency - to foster and encourage family farms. However it was being operated strictly as a financial institution - to get the maximum return on its loans with no regard for its social responsibilities. FmHA would obtain control of farmers' crop and livestock income, and if a farmer fell behind in his loan payments, FmHA would refuse to release any income to him. Thus it starved people off of their farms without making any attempt to get them back onto a payment schedule and without even having to foreclose. Jim Massey and Lynn Hayes (FLAG) in Minnesota and others in other states filed lawsuits to prevent FmHA from liquidating or foreclosing until it had complied with a farmer's Constitutional due process rights (including notice, an opportunity to contest and an opportunity to apply for a loan servicing program authorized by Congress). These state actions were consolidated into a national action covering nearly all FmHA borrowers throughout the country (Coleman v. Block) - and Jim Massey and Lynn Hayes ultimately took over prosecution of this national action. Coleman v. Block, which was successful, has had the effect for the past 5 or 6 years of preventing FmHA's liquidations and foreclosures until farmers' due process rights have been afforded. Jim and Lynn have also assisted in drafting new FmHA legislation to assure that farmers' due process rights are respected in the future. Support from the Save the Family Farm Coalition (of grassroots farm organizations) and financial support from the Farm Aid Concerts (organized by Willie Nelson and other musicians) were essential in getting this legislation through Congress. Lynn also discusses the formation of FLAG and the unique contributions of the Minnesota Farm Advocates Program, including encouraging farmers to pursue their rights and in supporting legal actions by providing essential information in the farmers' area of expertise (and otherwise unavailable to the lawyers).
1.5 hours sound cassette
36 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Interviewee: Hayes, Lynn
Interviewer: Hunter, Dianna
Made in: Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 37 (Library Call Number)
AV1991.158.14 (Accession Number)
MNHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project'