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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Small farmers meet an agricultural giant

Seven years ago, at age 29, Steve Hanson thought he had a bright future in farming. " I was doing what I absolutely loved to do, on my own terms," he says. "I'd always thought there were few people in this world who actually do what they love. I was one of the lucky ones."

But that same year Hanson became paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal tumor. Determined to continue working, he hired extra help and modified his tractor and combine with hydraulic lifts so he could get into the machinery. Fortunately, his disability insurance covered the additional expenses. Since Hanson's wife, Julie, also had a good job as a registered nurse, they thought they could provide for their family of five.

Yet these can be discouraging days for farmers, says Hanson's pastor, Don Swenson. While the rest of the economy is booming, many farmers in the congregations Swenson serves — Beavercreek and Trinity Lutheran, Sharon, N.D., struggle with low crop prices, yet they pay more for fertilizer and fuel needed to produce that crop.


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July issue

JULY issue:

Economic inequality

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