An understanding of current agrarian problems requires a review of major land-granting policies of the federal government in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These include the Preemption acts, the Homestead Act, railroad land grants, the Swamp Lands Act, and the Desert Land Act (see Figure 3.1). The stated objective of these acts was to provide equal opportunities to resident yeomen farm families; in reality, speculators, land companies, and large-scale farmers received most of the land and its associated wealth. A persistent set of proagribusiness institutions and economic interests assured that regardless of the stated philosophy of the land-granting laws, wealthier groups of U.S. society were enriched and the poor were left with dreams.