A Time to Choose came about in a setting of substantial turmoil. In the late 1970s, agriculture felt that it was on a roller coaster. Earlier in the decade, it had experienced the huge sales to the Soviet Union, short crops around the world, very high prices, and very high incomes. Then it came down the hill into a very unstable period that was substantially different from the relative stability of the 1950s and 1960s. Energy problems, which had begun early in the 1970s, had not had much of an effect while prices and incomes were high, but when the boom ended, the high cost of energy hurt farmers badly. The general economy was seriously overheated, and inflation was very high. The budget situation, which in retrospect seems tame compared with today's, looked very threatening at the time. In fact, from 1979 to 1980 the deficit increased 80%, something that was very much on people's minds as they were judging policy options. Finally, unusually rapid structural changes were taking place, with farms becoming larger but fewer.