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Farm life


Image of Nebraska
Image of Nebraska

The importance of agriculture meant that problems of farmers dominated the politics of the new state. The program of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, a fraternal society established in 1867 to advance the social, economic, and political interests of farmers and commonly called the National Grange, sought to help farmers by encouraging the cooperative manufacture and distribution of farm machinery and other goods and by urging state regulation of railroad rates, which farmers felt were excessive.

The cooperative manufacturing and distribution enterprises did not succeed, but the state constitution of 1875, adopted under Granger influence, authorized the state to regulate railroad fares, severely restricted state taxing and spending powers, and restricted the legal amount of state government debt.

When economic conditions improved somewhat in the late 1870s, the Granger movement declined, but in the late 1880s farmers faced the same problems once again. Low crop prices, high operating costs, and high interest rates made it difficult for farmers to operate at a profit. Farmers’ Alliances, farmers’ organizations founded to advance their social, educational, financial, and political interests, were organized in Nebraska in 1880.

The state legislature, despite constitutional authorization, had failed to take any effective regulatory action against the railroads. The Farmers’ Alliance, which was convinced that high freight rates and other railroad pricing practices were the primary causes of agricultural distress, began a campaign against the railroad companies that soon widened into an attack on grain-elevator operators, bankers (for refusal to reduce interest rates), and other businessmen who were perceived as greedy. "Nebraska" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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