Southern Tenant Farmers Union

Southern Tenant Farmers Union

The Southern Tenant Farmers' Union (STFU) was founded as a civil farmer's union to further organize the tenant farmers in the Southern United States.

Originally set up during the Great Depression in the United States, the reasons for the establishment of the STFU are numerous, although they are all largely centered upon money and working conditions. Predominantly, the STFU was established as a result of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). The AAA itself was designed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help revive the United States' agricultural industry and to recharge the depressed economy.

The AAA called for a reduction in food production, which would, through a controlled shortage of food, raise the price for any given food item through supply and demand. The desired effect was that the agricultural industry would once again prosper due to the increased value and produce more income for farmers. In order to decrease food production, the AAA would pay farmers not to farm and the money would go to the landowners. The landowners were expected to share this money with the tenant farmers. While a small percentage of the landowners did share the income, the majority did not. This led to the formation of the STFU, whose existence serves historically as evidence that such a problem existed.

STFU was one of few unions in the 1930s that was open to all races. Promoting not only nonviolent protest for their fair share of the AAA money, the STFU also promoted the idea that blacks and whites could work efficiently together. Because these ideas were highly controversial at the time, the STFU met with harsh resistance from the landowners and local public officials and STFU leaders were often harassed and ignored.


*Auerbach, Jerold S. "Southern Tenant Farmers: Socialist Critics of the New Deal." "Labor History" 7 (1966): 3–18.

*Cobb, William H. "The Southern Tenant Farmers' Union." The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

*Dyson, Lowell K. "The Southern Tenant Farmers Union and Depression Politics." "Political Science Quarterly" 88 (1973): 230–252.

*Grubbs, Donald H. "Cry from the Cotton: The Southern Tenant Farmers' Union and the New Deal". Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971.

*Kester, Howard. "Revolt among the Sharecroppers". New York: Covici-Frede, 1936.

*Mitchell, H. L. "The Founding and Early History of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union." "Arkansas Historical Quarterly" 32 (1973): 342–369.

*Naison, Mark D. "The Southern Tenants' Farmers' Union and the CIO." In "We Are All Leaders": The Alternative Unionism of the Early 1930s". Edited by Staughton Lynd. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

*Ross Jr., James D. "I ain’t got no home in this world": The Rise and Fall of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union in Arkansas." Ph.D. diss., Auburn University, 2004.

External links

* [ Inventory of the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union Records, 1934-1991] , in the Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

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