Texas passes law restricting cotton acreage
On this day in 1931, the state legislature passed the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law of 1931-32. The Great Depression had hit the Texas economy, in which "Cotton [was] King," hard; cotton prices had already begun to slump during the late 1920s due to reduced consumption and steady production. The law restricted the amount of cotton planted in 1932 and 1933 to no more than 30 percent of the land in cultivation during the preceding year, and barred farmers from planting cotton on the same land for two successive years after 1933. Many large cotton farmers, especially in South Texas, feared that enforcement of the law would force them to lay off many tenant farmers, seriously increasing unemployment in that region. Planters were also angry that legislators failed to address the need to find alternative crops and jobs for displaced workers. Many cotton farmers planned to evade or even openly disregard the cotton acreage act. A few other southern states passed similar but weaker acreage laws, but collectively they had little effect. A federal judge declared the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law unconstitutional in February 1932.