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State Historical Society of Iowa

World Food Prize Foundation President Ambassador Terry Branstad to discuss Farm Crisis of the 1980s

Apr 5, 2023

DES MOINES – Join the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the World Food Prize Foundation on Tuesday, April 11, for a conversation with World Food Prize Foundation President Ambassador Terry Branstad about his experience leading Iowa through the Farm Crisis of the 1980s. 

Prior to the conversation, attendees will have an opportunity to explore the Foundation’s Hall of Laureates and view letters, photos and materials from the State Historical Society of Iowa’s state archives, special collections and museum.

“The 1980s were a very challenging, stressful time for Iowans,” said Branstad, who served as Iowa governor from 1983 to1999 and again from 2011 to 2017. “Our farmers and rural communities were in crisis and I felt I needed to leave no stone unturned. I needed to do anything and everything I could to address the immense challenges we were facing.” 

The conversation builds on a project that began in the fall of 2022 when the State Historical Society of Iowa conducted an extensive oral history with Branstad. The oral history focused on the ambassador’s long service to Iowa and especially highlighted his leadership during the Farm Crisis. The oral history is held in the Branstad Collection at the State Historical Society of Iowa and marks the beginning of efforts to capture oral histories of Iowans. 

An extended excerpt of Branstad’s oral history of the Farm Crisis is included in the spring issue of the Annals of Iowa, the historical society’s quarterly history journal. It also features a scholarly discussion of a new book about the history of Iowa and the Farm Crisis, Farm Crisis-related photos and letters from the historical society’s special collections and state archives in Des Moines along with a guide for educators on how to teach about the Farm Crisis. The issue will be available for purchase at the event or online at

“We’ve collaborated with the World Food Prize Foundation in the past on projects like the Norman Borlaug statue at Statuary Hall and other cultural programming,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “This program will let Iowans hear directly from the ambassador about a historical event.”

The event will begin with an open house and reception at 4:30 p.m. at the Hall of Laureates. Ambassador Branstad will speak at 5:30 p.m. Registration is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa-State Office of Film & Media – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.