Economic Changes in the Southern States

February 9, 1939

Report Outline
Regional Characteristics of the South
Mechanization of Southern Agriculture
Industrial Development in the Southeast
Prospects for Further Industrial Growth
Special Focus

Regional Characteristics of the South

Since publication of the “Report on Economic Conditions of the South” by the National Emergency Council last July, groups of experts, members of Congress, and the public have given increased attention to the effect of chronic depression in one region on the whole national economy. The situation has been rendered even more acute by the present low price of cotton, failing export markets, and a huge carryover from last year's crop.

Last month 29 southern leaders, meeting in Atlanta, adopted a report in which they declared that “the Nation's treatment of the South has been that generally accorded colonial possessions.…The South does not ask a preferred status; what it asks is equality of opportunity within the Union.” Specific recommendations approved by the group include a long-term revision of the southern agricultural situation, with federal aid through the Farm Security Administration and the Farm Tenant Act; federal co-operation with the states in public health and education; and equalization of freight rates by removal of existing territorial differentials.

The volume of industrial production in the southern states is far below the proportion of the national output that might be expected on the basis of population, area, and natural resources. But the problem seems to lead into a vicious circle: Southern industry cannot develop because the people are too poor to buy the products of industry, especially in rural sections; at the same time, proper diversification and rationalization of agriculture is hampered by the lack of nearby rich industrial communities to furnish a market for vegetables, dairy products, and other farm produce.

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Nov. 23, 1979  Rural Health Care
Aug. 15, 1975  Rural Migration
Feb. 09, 1939  Economic Changes in the Southern States
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