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Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project: Interview with Albert and Pearl Gamradt
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Albert Gamradt's family has been on the same farm for 4 generations. He took over from his father in 1970, 6 months after his first wife and their 3 children were killed in a car-train accident. Albert and Pearl were married in 1973; they have 4 children. They live on a 45 acre tract that was part of the original farm. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: This interview relates almost entirely to the Gamradts' own experiences - culminating in the loss of their farm. They were the lead plaintiffs in the Minnesota class action suit Gamradt v. Block. In about 1979, their loan of $40,000 at a local bank was called, and this forced them to seek a loan from FmHA to replace it or quit farming. FmHA refused to grant the $40,000 loan they wanted, but urged them to take a much larger loan which was to pay for capital improvements and an expansion of their operation. Their choice thus restricted, they agreed to a loan of $198,000 in September 1979. In February 1982, Albert broke his back in a farm accident, and was laid up for 11 months. FmHA insisted that the income from the farm be used to service the loan, leaving little or nothing for the Gamradts' living expenses. FmHA would not discuss restructuring with them, but advised them to sell their dairy herd. When they did so, FmHA threatened to bring charges against them for selling secured property and tried to stop payment to them of the price of the sale. Farm neighbors and friends became hostile and did little to help and police protection relative to acts of vandalism was denied them. COACT and Farm Advocates were then contacted and did offer them assistance. Lou Anne Kling, Lynn Hayes and Jim Massey came to the farm in about the fall of 1982 to look into their case. Pearl became a Farm Advocate briefly, but soon dropped out because of the stress she was under. In 1983 the Gamradts entered a class-action suit against the FmHA, and, in view of the particular fact situation relating to their medical problem, they became the lead plaintiffs. They feared retribution from FmHA for this and they were in fact threatened. FmHA was set up to work with and help save farmers, but has (the Gamradts allege) actually worked to see that they fail (and that FmHA has been carrying out a plan of big companies and the [Federal] Government to get people out of farming). The Gamradts' debt reached $315,000 and Albert quit farming in 1986 to drive a truck over the road. Their belief is that it is no longer possible for individuals to go into farming; that the future will be corporate farms. Many people who would never knowingly sell their land to corporations are selling to individuals secretly acting as agents for corporations.
3 hours sound cassette
94 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Interviewee: Gamradt, Albert
Interviewee: Gamradt, Mrs. Pearl
Interviewer: Hunter, Dianna
Made in [vicinity]: Sauk Centre, Stearns County, Minnesota, United States
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 37 (Library Call Number)
AV1991.158.10 (Accession Number)
MNHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Farm Advocate Oral History Project'