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The Delta and the National Economy

The Mississippi River's presence ties the region together economically. America has long utilized the river system as a major transportation corridor for shipping goods to international markets, as well as supplying goods to the interior of the country. The river's value to the agricultural economy of the Delta and the nation is uncontested.

  • Cotton has been the mainstay of the region's economy for more than 150 years. This single crop, with its roots secure in the rich alluvial soil, has had an impact on markets around the world. It was cotton grown in the Delta that supplied the textile markets of England and New England which, in turn, perpetuated the slave labor system of the South. Soybeans, corn, and rice cultivation, timbering, oil refining, and the chemical industry helped diversify the region's economy.
  • Since 1950 technology has continued to decrease labor requirements for traditional crops—cotton, corn, rice, and soybeans—resulting in a high number of displaced workers.
  • The Delta tells the story of the survival of the working poor. There is a dignity in labor in the Delta reflected in the ways people define and sustain themselves. You can see it in gardens, in folk art, and in crafts.
  • Travel and tourism is becoming another major industry in the Delta and the nation. As the number one industry of the late-twentieth century, travel and tourism can be a vehicle to stimulate the economies of the Lower Mississippi Delta


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Last Updated: March 14, 2001