Farming Essay

1067 words - 5 pages

The period of 1865 to 1900 was characterized by repeated economic booms and panics. Government policy towards the coinage of silver and railroad regulations helped and hindered agriculture’s ability to prosper; technology, such as railroads, helped transport goods to the eastern markets, wheat-threshers helped produce more crops, and farming was diversified; economic booms and panics, and the want for silver largely affected the prices of farmer’s goods.
After the Civil War, the South’s economy mainly consisted of growing cotton. The South was the poorest part of America which can be attributed to their late industrialization and workers who were not well educated. Due to the fact that between 1865 to 1900 the number of bushels of cotton increased, farmers suffered because more cotton on the market contributed to falling cotton prices (DOC A). Many farmers even lost their farms. A few farmers in the South decided that to try to save their farms they would try to plant crops other than cotton. One of the most famous of these farmers was George Washington Carver. He was an African-American scientist and he encouraged farmers to grow peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans; thanks to Carver the south’s farming industry became greatly diversified.
Cotton was not the crop price that suffered. Due to the increased global competition prices for wheat and other crops were pushed down as well. Political speakers told the farmers to grow more crops, but when they did the prices only dropped (Doc G). The price of corn decreased from 1865 to 1885, and the price of wheat fell from 1865 to 1885 (DOC A). Static money in America also deflated the prices. When the prices were falling farmers were still trying to pay off mortgages, therefore they planted even more crops in a desperate attempt to make more money. In fact farmers produced more and more wheat from 1865 to 1880 and from 1890 to 1900. Corn was also increasingly produced from 1870 to 1885 and from 1895 to 1900. Sadly, this only lowered the price of the crops. Farmers were put into even more debt, some were forced to foreclose, and some became sharecroppers and tenant farmers. Sharecroppers faced even more debt because the land owner held them to contracts which dictated how and when the crop would be sold, and they dictated how much the landowner would take from the profits as how much the person “owed” the landowner (Doc E).
Trusts also hurt the farmers because the trusts kept the prices on manufactured goods high, and the wholesalers and retailers took their cut before they sold to the farmers. Railroads and elevators charged high prices on farmers for shipping and storing grain. This only took more of the money from farmers. Heavy taxes were put on land and property, but not on income from stocks and bonds. The tariffs also seemed to only hurt the farmers and benefit the industry. Railroads were not all bad for the farmers because the increased amount of railroads from 1870 to 1890 allowed their...

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