PIPESTONE, Minn. -- "That's another tool we never would have thought about before the crunch," Willys Kruisselbrink remarked to Robert Morgan of the First National Bank of Pipestone, who had come to survey the farmer's flooded soybean fields.

Mr. Kruisselbrink was pointing to the terminal on his kitchen counter that enables him to track the prices of futures contracts, and the "crunch" he referred to came between 1984 and 1989, when 304 farm banks failed and nearly 100 farmers went bankrupt every day.

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