A year ago, apprehensive about writing this address, I spoke with former president Joe Broder. He advised me to pick something I cared about deeply. That advice, although well meant, left me rather stymied. I care about teaching, but Joe Broder's own presidential address had handled that topic better than I thought I could. So I floundered for a while, without gaining a focus. Then came August and the signing into law of the new welfare bill. A few months earlier, farm programs had also been vastly modified. My topic finally came together. The combination of the 1996 Farm Bill and the new welfare legislation clearly signaled major changes for the rural South, and I wondered what these changes would entail.