UNIONVILLE, Mo. -- A couple who made national headlines by announcing a raffle of their northeast Missouri farm said poor sales of a poetry book with the ticket inside have forced them to call off 'The Bitter Harvest Great Farm Sweepstakes.'
Raymond and Hazel Hirst have said they may face foreclosure or bankruptcy since their plan to pay off more than $225,000 in debts through the raffle of their 476-acre farm has failed.
'The way the farm crisis is going I don't think anybody wants to win a farm,' Raymond Hirst, 53, told the Kansas City Times.
To meet their goal, the couple last year announced they hoped to sell 50,000 copies of Bitter Harvest, a book of poems by Hazel Hirst about the plight of American farmers. The couple had hoped to raise $500,000 to pay off their debts and start fresh.
However, the couple fell far short of their goal -- selling slightly more than 20,000 copies of the book at $10 apiece ($8 with $2 postage and handling). The more than $200,000 raised had been kept at two banks in Unionville, except for $40,000 that has been used to pay advertising costs and other expenses, Raymond Hirst said.
The Hirsts say they will refund $8 to anyone who bought the book and sends them the number printed on the back of their copy along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
The Hirsts notified the Missouri attorney general's office Tuesday about the cancellation, and officials have asked the couple to send, in writing, details of how the refunds will be handled.
Refund requests hould be sent to Bitter Harvest, Box 176, Unionville, Mo., 63565.
The Hirst farm includes a three-bedroom modern home valued at $100,000 and a private lake stocked with bass and catfish.