The Farmer's Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm

The Farmer's Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm

by Sarah Vogel
The Farmer's Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm

The Farmer's Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm

by Sarah Vogel


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"Sarah's story, told in her unique voice, inspires me—and I'm sure it will inspire you—to fight for family farmers." —Willie Nelson

"An exquisitely written American saga." —Sarah Smarsh

"Remarkably well told and heartfelt." —John Grisham

The unforgettable true story of a young lawyer's impossible legal battle to stop the federal government from foreclosing on thousands of family farmers.

In the early 1980s, farmers were suffering through the worst economic crisis to hit rural America since the Great Depression. Land prices were down, operating costs and interest rates were up, and severe weather devastated crops. Instead of receiving assistance from the government as they had in the 1930s, these hardworking family farmers were threatened with foreclosure by the very agency that Franklin Delano Roosevelt created to help them.

Desperate, they called Sarah Vogel in North Dakota. Sarah, a young lawyer and single mother, listened to farmers who were on the verge of losing everything and, inspired by the politicians who had helped farmers in the '30s, she naively built a solo practice of clients who couldn't afford to pay her. Sarah began drowning in debt and soon her own home was facing foreclosure. In a David and Goliath legal battle reminiscent of A Civil Action or Erin Brockovich, Sarah brought a national class action lawsuit, which pitted her against the Reagan administration's Department of Justice, in her fight for family farmers' Constitutional rights. It was her first case.

A courageous American story about justice and holding the powerful to account, The Farmer's Lawyer shows how the farm economy we all depend on for our daily bread almost fell apart due to the willful neglect of those charged to protect it, and what we can learn from Sarah's battle as a similar calamity looms large on our horizon once again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635575262
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 11/02/2021
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 401,546
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Sarah Vogel is an attorney and former politician whose career has focused on family farmers and ranchers. Vogel was the first woman in U.S. history to be elected as a state commissioner of agriculture. In 2006, the American Agricultural Law Association awarded her its Distinguished Service Award for contributions to the field of agriculture law, and Willie Nelson honored her at Farm Aid's thirtieth anniversary in 2015 for her service to farmers. An in-demand speaker and a passionate advocate for Native American rights, Vogel lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters 11

Preface 15

Prologue-The Call 19

Part I The Sowing 29

1 The Platform 31

2 The First Farmer 56

3 Cottonwood Haven 100

4 Cut, Slash, Chop 126

5 The Starve Out 147

6 A Little Bit of Nothing 165

Part II The Growing 177

7 The Organizers 179

8 Problem Case 196

9 The Farmer's Lawyer 216

10 Here Once the Embattled Farmers Stood 239

11 Time to Make Some Law 262

12 Exhaustion 282

13 Competency of Counsel 297

Part III The Reaping 315

14 Bitter Harvest 317

15 If We Eat, You Shall Eat 336

16 Springing the Trap 365

17 Unity 387

18 The Dead Chicken Argument 403

19 The Front Steps of the Courthouse 432

20 Nothing but the Truth 452

21 Wouldn't Bill Langer Be Proud 532

22 Discovery 557

23 The Biblical Injunction 572

Part IV The Saved Seed 591

24 There Is One Bright Spot Where the People Rule 593

Epilogue - Strength From the Soil 621

Postscript 633

Acknowledgments 643

Image Credits 649

Notes 651

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