Established in 1937 as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Farm Security Administration sought to help the neediest farmers through loans, management advice, community equipment purchases, and, on a limited scale, medical insurance. One of its goals was to reduce farm tenancy, which prevailed on 25 percent of all West Virginia farms by 1939, and a few tenants received favorable mortgages, enabling them to purchase farms. Also, FSA photographers helped call attention to rural poverty, with Walker Evans, John Collier, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, and Ben Shahn among those active in West Virginia. One of the most promising of New Deal efforts to address rural poverty and to keep farmers on the land, the agency never obtained the funding to achieve its statutory goals or to fully assess the causes of rural poverty. The FSA came to an end in 1942 because of the exigencies of war and waning congressional support for New Deal reformism.
This Article was written by Jerry Bruce Thomas
Last Revised on July 20, 2012
Thomas, Jerry Bruce. An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998.