External Trends & Forces
The national and world economy affects Southern Virginia. The North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA) introduced difficulties for several regional industries, primarily those in the apparel and weaving sectors. Historically, the economic structure of the region has revolved around agriculture with tobacco being the principal crop. However, in 2004 Congress approved the Tobacco Buyout Bill, which eliminated tobacco market quotas and price supports. The buyout payments, over a period of 10 years, have provided an infusion of capital into state and local economies, which are intended to assist farmers and other affected parties to move away from tobacco crops as a source of income. As a result many of the region’s small operators shifted away from tobacco in favor of other crops. This assistance has helped to bolster the region’s infrastructure and diversify the economy, particularly with regard to advanced manufacturing and other high tech enterprises.