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Helping or Hurting Farmers?

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Krista Jones

on 22 June 2014

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Transcript of Helping or Hurting Farmers?

The Interstate Commerce Commission was created in 1887 by the Interstate Commerce Act. The Commission was meant to keep railroad rates in check, as well as monitor other things that crossed state lines. This went along with the Populists goal to regulate businesses.
Interstate Commerce Commission
All of the goals of the Populist movement would help farmers. Using greenbacks and backing the US dollar with silver, as well as gold, would create inflation and help farmers pay off their debts. The idea of regulating businesses was specifically meant for railroads. The Populist movement wanted the government to watch the railroad companies and keep their shipping costs from becoming too high.
The Populist Movement
High Railroad Shipping Costs
The Homestead Act was passed by Congress in 1862. It helped encourage settlement of the west by essentially giving people 160 acres of free land as long as they agreed to cultivate it for 5 years.
Homestead Act
Regulating railroad businesses kept them from making farmers pay more than they could afford to ship crops.
Interstate Commerce Commission
Populists believed that using a free silver policy would pump more money into the economy, and consequently, into the pockets of farmers.
The Populist movement was inspired by granges. It was started to help struggling farmers. The movement strove to implement paper money (greenbacks), basing the US dollar on silver & gold, and regulation on businesses
The Populist Movement
When the production of crops increased, and the demand when down, the price for shipping the crops skyrocketed. Railroad companies charged the farmers much more to ship the same amount of crops.
High Railroad Shipping Costs
Helping or Hurting Farmers?
The Homestead Act had an unexpected side effect. Because so many people became farmers as a result of this act, there was a surplus of crops. The prices of crops dropped and farmers were paid less.
Homestead Act
The Transcontinental Railroad became official in 1869, when the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad came together at Promontory Point, Utah. The railroad now ran from coast to coast.
Transcontinental Railroad
At first, the Transcontinental Railroad helped farmers by shipping their crops where they could be sold at higher prices, like cities and coastal towns. These places could not sustain their own local agriculture for various reasons and were willing to pay a little more for food.
Transcontinental Railroad
Granges helped lower the cost paid by each farmer because everyone contributed and paid for equipment and supplies. Selling their products as a group was also very cost-efficient. Granges also spoke out against the tyrannical railroad companies.
Farmers Alliances & Granges
To combat the higher costs and lower revenues, farmers came together. They formed alliances called granges. Granges pooled their resources and sold their products as a group, instead of separate individuals selling their own product. Popular groups included the Northern Alliance, the Southern Alliance, and the Colored Alliance.
Farmers Alliances & Granges
Backing the US dollar with gold and silver became known as bimetallism. The use of bimetallism was one goal of the Populist movement. It was also called a free silver policy.
Kristina Jones
These higher costs, coupled with the lower income, hit farmers hard. Their profits were lowered even more. Farmers felt that they were being overcharged.
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