Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — Farm Economy

17th-18th Centuries

17th century
Farmers near water transportation grow some cash crops for trade; farmers inland emphasize subsistence farming

18th century
Northern farmers produce a variety of crops and livestock, sometimes supplemented by craftwork; Southern plantation agriculture concentrates on export crops.

1776
Declaration of Independence results partly from British controls on farm exports, restrictions on land titles, and limitations on western settlement

1786
Shay's Rebellion, a farmers' revolt against deflation 1791 First National Bank chartered

1800

1817-40
Antagonism between commercial and farming interests of the South; commerce especially opposes the institution of a protective tariff

1820

1832
Rechartering of the Bank of the United States becomes an acute point of contention between creditors in the cities and debtors in the South and West

 

 

1840

1850-61
The South, with its primarily agricultural economy, is politically strong

1860

1865-1900
Greenbackers and later Populists, representing debtors, fight deflation, high freight rates, and monopoly; these issues partly indicate a shift of power from agrarian to commercial interests after the Civil War

1869
Louis McMurray contracts with farmers near Frederick, MD for vegetables to be canned in his factory, the beginning of vertical integration

1873
Silver demonetized in so-called Crime of '73

1880

1900

1889-1919
Farm prosperity

 

1910

1910s
Farm credit is a steadily growing rural issue

1913
Federal Reserve Act passed

 

 

1920

1920s
Agricultural surpluses become the chief agricultural issue

1920
Collapse of agricultural prices

1921-40
Long-term agricultural depression

1930

1932
Farm prices and income reach Depression bottom

 

 

1940

1945-60
Expansion of vertical integration, especially in the broiler industry

 

 

 

 

1950

1950
Large agricultural surpluses

 

 

1960

1966
Federal minimum wage extended to some farm workers

 

 

 

1970

1972
Russian wheat sale brings higher farm prices

 

1980

1980s
Farm financial crisis affects farmers with heavy debt loads

 

 

 

1990-2000

1990s
Concentration grows in farm inputs industry and among processors and shippers; more farms turn to production and marketing contracts, increasing vertical coordination

1996
Net farm income reaches a record $54.9 billion

1998-99
Price slump caused by large commodity surpluses

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