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Arts & Life

How pride in agriculture launched SD into the initiative and referendum process

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South Dakota Historical Society

The attached audio is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

On this day in 1887, HL Loucks, president of the Dakota Farmers Alliance, addressed the group's annual meeting in Huron. The Farmers' Alliance was an American agrarian movement during the 1870s and '80s that sought to improve the economic conditions for farmers by creating cooperatives and through political advocacy.

Loucks spoke to the membership on several subjects... encouraging them to show more pride in the occupation of farming by improving county fairs and turning them into a showcase for agriculture. He advocated for stricter enforcement of the interstate commerce law to keep railroads from raising their shipping rates to artificially high levels.

He urged members to organize in every legislative district to advocate for Farmers Alliance issues and support candidates, from either party, that supported the Alliance. If neither party's candidate proved to be supportive, he urged members to nominate independent candidates for the legislature.