The consolidation of railroads caused a huge debt problem. It forced the railroads to compete for business crookedly. Farmers were not treated fairly and were discriminated against. When the farmers went to the government for help, rate discrimination was initially outlawed and upheld by the Supreme Court however, the Court ruled that the states could not regulate interstate commerce. Then, congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act, a law that banned discriminatory short-distance rates, as well as other activities. Again, the railroads challenged this law and had it nullified. Finally, the Hepburn Act passed in 1906, which strengthened the ICC and empowered the commission to set rates.