Q:

How did the Dust Bowl impact the economy?

A:

Quick Answer

The Dust Bowl was both a geographical location in the Midwest and a series of devastating droughts that crippled the economy in the 1930s by shutting down many farms and forcing farmers to leave in search of jobs that did not exist. The first of the droughts occurred when the Great Depression was underway, which meant work was scarce. Many former farmers ended up homeless.

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Full Answer

The exodus of farmers and migrant workers from the Dust Bowl was the largest the United States had experienced in such a brief period of time. By 1940, as many as 2.5 million people had left the Great Plains region, 200,000 of them moving to California in hopes of changing their luck. Many Dust Bowl residents simply packed what little they had and left without tying up loose ends or even shutting their doors. As a result, a large number of Midwestern banks and businesses shut down abruptly.

Those who stayed struggled with record low prices for their crops and livestock, a result of the concurrent Great Depression. In 1933, pig farmers slaughtered 6 million animals to reduce supply in hopes of driving up prices. The subsequent public backlash spurred the federal government to create the Surplus Relief Corporation, which ensured surplus crops and livestock fed the poor rather than going to waste.

Author John Steinbeck wrote about the Dust Bowl era in the novels "Of Mice and Men" and "Grapes of Wrath," for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why did Great Plains farmers migrate to California in the 1930s?

    A:

    Great Plains farmers migrated to California in the 1930s because drought conditions and erosion-producing agricultural methods created the decade-long phenomenon known as the Dust Bowl. Because they were unable to survive in such an arid, hostile environment, many farmers left the region and journeyed to California to look for work.

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  • Q:

    Could the Dust Bowl have been prevented?

    A:

    While this was a sensitive topic in its day, many scholars agree that the Dust Bowl could largely have been prevented from happening. Scholars from the University of Illinois agree with the idea that the Dust Bowl tragedy occurred due to a combination of human and ecological factors, meaning it might not have been 100 percent preventable, but its effects could have been less severe with better farming practices.

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    What did the U.S. government do about the Dust Bowl?

    A:

    Franklin Roosevelt and the U.S. government had two responses to the Dust Bowl: creating agencies and laws to help alleviate financial burdens of migrants and farmers affected by the Dust Bowl; and addressing the environmental issues that created the Dust Bowl. Through the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration, they provided subsidies and purchased sub-prime land to give money to the farmers and restore grasslands to over-farmed wheat fields.

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    What was colonial Delaware's economy like?

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    Colonial Delaware's economy was based on farming, manufacturing and trade. What started as local trade with Native Americans in the 1600s quickly grew into a large manufacturing economy in the 1700s. The iron, grain milling, shipbuilding and lumber industries accounted for a large portion of Colonial Delaware's economy.

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