June 28, 2013

Coon Rapids recording artist Chad Elliott produced two original songs and the complete instrumental arrangements for an Iowa Public Television film on the farm crisis.

Statewide Iowa Public Television will debut "The Farm Crisis," a 90-minute program that examines the economic and personal disasters that afflicted the agriculture sector in the 1980s, on Monday at 8 p.m.

Elliott, 39, developed the music at his recording facility - Chad Elliott Music/Elliott Art Studio - in downtown Coon Rapids. Elliott and his wife, Alyssa, attended a premiere Thursday night at the State Historical Society in Des Moines. Both have strong ties to the Coon Rapids agricultural community.

"There are a lot of Iowa farmers and representatives in the documentary," said Alyssa Elliott, manager of Elliott's studio and music career.

Narrated by NBC News reporter Harry Smith, "The Farm Crisis" delves into the tragic circumstances faced by farmers for most of the 1980s, when thousands were forced into bankruptcy, land values dropped by one-third nationally, and sky-high interest rates turned successes into failures seemingly overnight. Smith attended the Des Moines premiere.

"Original music by Iowa-based recording artist Chad Elliott sets the tone throughout the program," IPTV says in a news release announcing the program.

The program features interviews with policymakers, business owners, economists and farm families, including Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Charles Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin, former Rep. Jim Leach, the late Mark Pearson, former Sen. Tom Daschle, economist Neil Harl, and recording artist and Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson.

Beyond the economic story, the program tells of the emotional toll facing those whose livelihoods depended on farming. Some broke under the strain of economic disaster - in some cases, even committing murder or suicide. Communities fractured, friendships ended, and identities were lost. But amid the tragedy, viewers will see stories of hope, as well: men and women who fought loyally to help some families save their farms, activists who rallied for action, and even music legends who got together to raise money to help.

Following its July 1 premiere, "The Farm Crisis" also airs Friday, July 5, at 11 p.m.; Wednesday, July 10, at 7 p.m.; and Friday, July 19, at 8:30 p.m. on Iowa Public Television.

Funding for "The Farm Crisis" was provided by: Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa, Humanities Iowa, John and Carole Lea Cotton, and Tim and Wendy Haight.

Alyssa Elliott said producers of the film are working on regional and national distribution.