I. The Populist Party A. Background: What changes were taking place in agriculture in the U.S. between 1870 and 1900? 1. Mechanization- machine were replacing people and animals of doing agricultural. Tractors being developed produced right after civil war.
Problems: need money to own tractors, banks load money to farmer, interest. Upkeep and maintain it to keep tractors running. Money to paid mechanic Added to the financial risk of farming, already gambling on soil and weather and crops.
2. Opening of new agricultural lands (West) - more and more land offered to people, land needed to be develop. Farmer could maintain more land than before because of technology. Problem: crops price were falling, land rush to make up for money lost on crops and to pay loans. High interests rate from bank. Huge drought in the Midwest, many farmers lost their farm, being taken over by banks (1886). More debt to get their way out of debt. 3. Growth of specialization in farm products didn't diverse crops, only produced one crop. 4. Changing character of markets for agricultural goods shipped produce overseas (international market) 1860- 1900 agricultural produces become 75% of US exports. RR owner made profits off farmer. Farmer didn't benefit much.
1880, market for farmer starts to fall apart. More produce than demand. Farm produces price fall, too much produce worldwide.
B. The "Agrarian Myth" and the Grange (the farming myth) - Jefferson believe independence farmer was the foundation of Americans society. Farmer discovered they were at mercy at banks and government because they were losing money.
Grange- first farmer organization formed in the 1867 in response to problems farmer felt, clubs for farmer to establish connection with other farmer. Hang out and drank and shared ideas. Promoted railroad regulation.
COOP- cooperative, way for farmer to try and save their money together and avoid using railroad.