It’s been nearly 40 years since the 1980s and what veterans remember as the darkest days for American farm equipment manufacturers.

Just after the Russian grain embargo in 1980, the prime lending rate soared from an average of 6.8% in 1976 to an all-time high of 21.5%  in 1981 and farm debt for land and equipment  purchases soared. This table, compiled by White Farm Equipment, in a 1983 competitive analysis,  showed what was happening with farm equipment manufacturers from 1981 to 1982. Massey Ferguson and Allis-Chalmers (now part of AGCO) and International Harvester (merged with Case to form Case International) all reported losses in excess of $200 million in 1982.

1980s crisis

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Source: White Farm Equipment Company Dealer Council Correspondence, dated 7-21-83. Ross Morgan (H&R Implement) collection.