FarmAid Family Deluged With Offers Of Help
HOLLANDALE, Wis. (AP) _ Ken and Sue Massey say they have been deluged by offers of help since they lost the family farm to foreclosure and they may use donations from caring strangers to establish a trust fund for their children’s education.
″We felt that the ones who lost the most from the foreclosure were our five children because we had hoped the land would pay for their college educations,″ Mrs. Massey said Wednesday evening. ″We haven’t decided about the trust fund, but we’re seriously thinking about it.″
She said the family had been overwhelmed with offers of help, including calls from people offering to buy the 310-acre egg farm from its new owner and give it back to the Masseys.
The family has remained on the farm, which was sold in an auction Tuesday to Raphael Peterson, a feed grain dealer, for $45,000.
The Masseys drew national attention last September when a letter Mrs. Massey wrote to the popular band Alabama about her family’s plight was read by the band’s lead singer during the nationally telecast FarmAid benefit concert.
She said one of the band members called her Tuesday to express sorrow and concern about the loss of the farm.
Mrs. Massey said she and her husband had not yet spoken with Peterson about his plans for the property, which had been in the Massey family for more than 80 years.
Peterson, who had said the Masseys owed him about $65,000, could not be reached Wednesday for comment. Telephone calls to his home went unanswered.
Massey, 34, and his wife, who is 29, have five children ranging in age from 18 months to 10 years.
Mrs. Massey said the family began receiving calls Tuesday afternoon - only hours after the farm was sold - from concerned people across the nation.
″We’ve just been overwhelmed,″ she said. ″The telephone began ringing as soon as we got back from the auction yesterday and it hasn’t stopped.″
She said a caller from Denver offered to buy back the farm from its new owner and give it to the Masseys. Other callers, including one from Oklahoma, said they had land the family could live on or farm.
″Kenny and I haven’t had time to figure out what to do,″ Mrs. Massey said. ″People mean so well that we hate to discourage them, but we’re kind of mind-boggled. We need time to figure out what to do and what is best for our family.″
In addition to offers of help, Mrs. Massey said the family had received many calls from people who were upset that the Masseys were forced off their land.
″The public is just furious,″ she said. ″They can’t believe the U.S. government is letting this happen to its farmers.
″I tell them to call your congresspersons and let them know this is an injustice and that something needs to be done,″ she said.
Among the most touching calls, she said, was one from a woman in Missouri who said her 16-year-old daughter had recently committed suicide. The woman called to thank Massey for saying suicide was no way to solve personal problems.
Massey, in a statement to reporters after the auction, had urged farmers who were in trouble to turn to their families for support.
Massey has a full-time job with a University of Wisconsin agricultural experiment station and Mrs. Massey has a part-time secretarial job in a veterinarian’s office.