How did the Populist movement try to help farmers?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Populist movement tried to help farmers. When farmers were unable to resolve the problems they faced with groups such as the Grange and Farmers’ Alliances, they created a political party to try to achieve their goals.

Farmers faced many financial problems. One of the problems they faced was the money supply. Farmers wanted a money supply based on both gold and silver. This would increase the money supply and lead to higher prices for farm crops. Also, since farmers were in debt, a period of inflation helped those who are in debt. Another financial problem farmers faced was interest rates. Banks were charging farmers interest rates that were really high. If the money supply increased, interest rates should drop. The Populist Party worked to increase the money supply and get lower interest rates for farmers.

Farmers were also upset with the railroad companies. Railroad companies gave rebates to some businesses that did a lot of shipping. However, the railroad companies wouldn’t do this for the farmers.  The Populist Party supporting the idea of having tighter control over the railroad companies. 

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Populist Movement developed from groups of agrarian reformers after the different groups realized their failure in addressing their issues at the national level. Farmers were generally faced with myriad challenges that saw them make meager returns from their farming activities. Among their concerns were the issue of failing crops, poor marketing of their produce, poor prices, and inadequate access to credit facilities.

The Populist Movement campaigned for favorable income tax policies. The movement also championed government ownership of the railroad in order to break the private monopoly. In addition, the movement wanted to improve the prices of farm produce. In order to achieve this goal, they pushed for the unlimited increase of circulating currency by minting more silver coins and printing more paper money. To address the issue of credit facilities, the Populist Movement tried to campaign for the abolition of national banks. However, political blunders and the party’s inability to appeal to wage earners led to its dissolution after the 1896 election.