Farm Tenancy in the United States

March 20, 1935

Report Outline
Federal Legislations to Check the Growth of Tenancy
Development of Farm Tenancy System
The Tenant System in the South and Southwest
Special Focus

Federal Legislations to Check the Growth of Tenancy

Agitation in the South for Improvement of Conditions

Two measures now before Congress represent efforts to check the rapid increase of farm tenancy in the United States. The most important of these is a bill introduced by Senator Bankhead (D., Ala.) on February 11, which provides for the creation of a Farm Tenant Homes Corporation and the lending of $1,000,000,000 at low interest rates to rural tenants and laborers for the purchase of farms. The second is in the form of an amendment by Senator Russell (D., Ga.) to the administration's work relief bill, now under consideration by the Senate. The amendment, which was accepted by the Senate on February 18, before the work relief bill was sent back to committee to forestall defeat on the prevailing wage issue, authorizes the President, to use a part of the $4,880,000,000 work relief fund for loans “to finance, in whole or in part, the purchase of farm lands and necessary equipment by farmers, farm tenants, croppers, or farm laborers.”

Both of these measures, together with a bill passed by the House, March 19, which would exempt from the tax provisions of the Bankhead Cotton Control Act farmers growing less than three bales of cotton, are intended particularly for the amelioration of conditions prevailing in the South and Southwest, where the succession of events since 1929 has produced a critical situation among the tenant classes.

The depression destroyed a part of the cotton market and industrial unemployment returned thousands of persons to the land. The reduction of cotton acreage in 1933 and 1934 under the crop control program of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration resulted in thousands of share croppers and other tenants being thrown out of employment, widespread evictions, discrimination against tenants in the matter of benefit payments, and other hardships. These events have been accompanied by continuing agitation, violence, and court actions, and since the formation of the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union during the summer of 1934, with the express support of the Socialist party, protests have become increasingly vociferous. The union now has a reported membership of 5,000. The effects of the cotton restriction program upon farm tenants have been the subject of two investigations by the A. A. A. Results of the second investigation, made early this year by Mary Connor Myers, were suppressed, but a third study was recently undertaken.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Farm Loans and Subsidies
May 17, 2002  Farm Subsidies
Apr. 11, 1986  Farm Finance
Sep. 03, 1941  Government Payments to Farmers
May 27, 1940  Government Farm Loans
Dec. 12, 1936  Government Aid to Farm Tenants
Mar. 20, 1935  Farm Tenancy in the United States
Dec. 08, 1932  Plans for Crop Surplus Control and Farm Mortgage Relief
Jul. 25, 1932  The Burden of Farm Mortgage Debt
Mar. 20, 1929  Plans of Farm Relief
Apr. 21, 1928  The Economic Position of the Farmer
Oct. 20, 1927  The Federal Farm Loan System
May 03, 1926  Congress and the Farm Problem
May 21, 1924  Agricultural Distress and Proposed Relief Measures
Economic Crises
Farm Loans, Insurance, and Subsidies
Labor Standards and Practices