TEXAS COTTON ACREAGE CONTROL LAW OF 1931-32
TEXAS COTTON ACREAGE CONTROL LAW OF 1931–32. In the late 1920s and early 1930s reduced cotton consumption and steady cotton production resulted in low prices for the crop and placed economic strains on many cotton farmers. This situation prompted southern states to seek measures to reduce production and address the need to stabilize a weak export market to Europe-a major buyer of southern cotton. The states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and New Mexico were represented at the Southern Cotton Conference on August 4, 1931. The gathering was called to consider proposals to restrict cotton acreage, look to other crops for production, and develop an industrial program to unite the South. The representatives felt that Texas should take a leading role in enacting an acreage law, and then other states would follow suit. In the second called session the Forty-Second Texas Legislature passed the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law on September 22, 1931. The law stated that the amount of cotton planted in 1932 and 1933 could not exceed 30 percent of the land in cultivation for the preceding year. Also, farmers could not plant cotton on the same land for two successive years after 1933. Through the restrictive acreage law legislators hoped to stimulate soil conservation and prevent further land deterioration and erosion. They also hoped to increase the quality of cotton produced and avoid crop deterioration and the problems of root rot and insect infestation from pests such as the boll weevil and the cotton flea. The penalty for breaking the law was a fine of 25 to 100 dollars per acre of cotton planted in violation of the act. Enforcement was placed with the attorney general, state commissioner of agriculture, state department of agriculture inspectors, county judges, and county and district attorneys. Supporters and opponents of the law debated its worth. Some felt the measure might lead to higher cotton prices, but others foresaw little if any increases. Many large plantations, especially in South Texas, feared that enforcement of the acreage 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. In South Texas farmers cut their old stalks and tried to raise second-growth cotton in the effort to get around the law. A few other southern states passed similar but weaker acreage laws, but collectively they had little effect. On January 19, 1932, in Franklin, Texas, a suit was filed in order to test the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law. The case involved T. L. Tyson, a county attorney, against Fred L. Smith, a farmer who was accused of planting too much cotton acreage. On February 1, 1932, a district judge ruled in favor of Smith and declared the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law to be null and void. He argued that enforcement of the law would be in violation of both the Texas and United States constitutions. His decision was later upheld in the Tenth Court of Civil Appeals on March 5, 1932. Up to that time the acreage law had never really been enforced and had little time to produce any major effects. See also COTTON CULTURE.
Karl E. Ashburn, "The Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law of 1931–32," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 61 (July 1957).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Laurie E. Jasinski, "Texas Cotton Acreage Control Law of 1931-32," accessed May 31, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mltpc.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 4, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles