In the period 1865-1900, technology, government policy, and economic conditions all changed American agriculture a great deal. New farming machinery had a large role in the late 19th century, giving farmers the opportunity to produce a lot more crops than they used to. The railroads had an enormous influence on agriculture. They were able to charge the farmers large fees, expenses that farmers barely had enough to cover, in order to transport their goods throughout the expansive country. The booming industry also changed American agriculture, creating monopolies and gaining incredible wealth with which the farmers simply could not compete. Economically, the monetary policy along with the steadily dropping prices of agricultural produce led farmers further into debt, eventually producing outcomes such as the crop-lien system and sharecropping. All of these tie into government policy which favored the large and wealthy industries and monopolies over the farmers. As Document A shows, over the course of the 35 years from 1865-1900, agriculture went from good to bad. Wheat went from $2.16 a bushel to $.62. Cotton and corn both followed in a similar suit, dropping from $.83 to $.10 a pound and $.52 to $.35 a bushel, respectively. As farmers began getting less and less profit from their produce, they tried to compensate more and more by producing more. Over time, this caused overproduction, driving prices down even more. The trend of overproduction is also demonstrated in Document C. However, as Mary Elizabeth Lease points out in Document G that even though they were producing more crops they were still cheated. The farmers were barely being paid for their crops and yet they were being told they were suffering from overproduction and when ten thousand children were starving every year in the United States. Poverty was affecting every citizen, whether they were white or black. This was demonstrated in Document E. This document shows...
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