The central Black Belt, formerly a principal cotton-growing area, is now employed largely for raising poultry (the state ranks third in U.S. broiler chicken production) and cattle, Alabama's most valuable agricultural products. Cotton is still the chief crop; greenhouse plants, peanuts, and vegetables are also important.
Although about half of Alabama's area is devoted to agriculture, manufacturing accounts for a larger share of the state's income. Where the Tennessee River loops across the north, hydroelectric power from the Tennessee Valley Authority has converted much agricultural land to industrial uses. Alabama has the second most extensive (after Georgia) forests in the contiguous United States, and pulp and paper products lead manufactures. Other major industries produce chemicals, electronics, textiles, processed foods, and automobiles. Oil and gas, cement, and stone lead mineral production; the state's once-prominent coal industry is gradually declining. The Marshall NASA Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, Maxwell Air Force Base, and Forts Rucker and McClellan contribute significantly to the economy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.