Ranching dominated Wyoming agriculture since territorial days, but farming became important in some areas of the state during the beginning of the 20th century. Agricultural development was hampered by the state’s aridity. Dry farming experts encouraged farmers to attempt agriculture without irrigation, particularly in the eastern counties of the state. Dry farming was stimulated by the Dry Farming Homestead Act of 1910, which encouraged farmers to attempt farming without irrigation. Hundreds of settlers came to southeastern and eastern Wyoming to attempt dry farming, but many were discouraged by droughts. After Wyoming achieved statehood, U.S. Senator Joseph Carey proposed legislation to encourage settlement of arid regions in the West. The Carey Act of 1894 ceded federal land to any state willing to participate in irrigation projects.
In 1902 the Reclamation Service was established. Its first significant project was Buffalo Bill (Shoshone) Dam, completed in 1910. This dam provided water for irrigating the region around Cody and Powell in the Bighorn Basin. The Bureau authorized six reservoir and dam projects along the North Platte River in Wyoming from 1910 to 1958 (Pathfinder, Guernsey, Alcova, Seminoe, Kortes and Glendo). The Riverton Reclamation Project, initiated in 1906, brought irrigation agriculture to Fremont County. The Bureau also built dams on the Green River and Wind-Bighorn River. With the exception of the Yellowstone River and the Clark’s Fork, most of the state’s waterways have been dammed. These irrigation projects led to the increase of agricultural production in Wyoming.
In fact, homesteading increased in Wyoming from the 1900s until the 1920s. By 1923, however, the farm sector of Wyoming’s economy had declined because of drought and declining prices for commodities. Small, thinly-capitalized banks loaned money to farmers who could not make payments on their loans. Some banks were obliged to foreclose farm loans, but were unable to sell the repossessed properties. The farm decline led to the failure of 25 banks in Wyoming in 1924, five of them on one day. Of the 133 banks operating in the state in 1920, only 34 remained a decade later. "Wyoming" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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