Tobacco Farmers are in a Tight Situation

March 25th, 2011 15:01

Tobacco is not simple merchandise; it is a whole industry, a multi billion business and means of living for many people all around the world. There are so many discussions on the consequences of smoking and the politics of tobacco products. They kill people; however taxes on them maintain a lot of government services. Annually the taxes on tobacco products increase, and smoking rates drop. But beyond all these headlines, there is a century-long farm story. In many parts of the country, tobacco is the most lucrative crop and nothing makes more money than $1,500-per-acre tobacco.

“We call it the 13-month crop, because we start to prepare for the next season long before the previous year’s harvest has been sold. Tobacco growing is a very long and difficult process, but at the same time it is a very profitable one,” stated Todd Clark, who has been a tobacco farmer since he was a youngster in the 1980s. Brian Furnish family has grown tobacco for 200 years. “For me farming is like a gamble. You put it on a cast annually,” he said.

The way of life of the majority of farmers has not changed. It is probably true for a type of tobacco known as Burley, which it is the major ingredient in American Blend Cigarettes as for instance Marlboro. “Tobacco is one of the most labor-consuming crop, because everything is done by hand,” Furnish states. In the past tobacco farming was very easy, but with continuing drop of cigarettes use in the U.S., many tobacco manufacturers have gone overseas in order to sell and buy cigarettes.

tobacco farmers

Furnish states that currently he is selling the big part of his Kentucky crop domestically and is exporting nearly 85% of it. “Many burley farmers depend on tobacco, because this is the unique means of their living. I travel to such countries as China, Egypt and Indonesia,” stated Brian Furnish, who also tries to sell tobacco in many foreign markets. The leading U.S. tobacco companies are buying less tobacco and this makes rather difficult for farmers to have a normal livelihood. For the first time in many years, Todd Clark has to go to the auction with one-quarter of his crop, which still does not have a buyer.

“Namely in this year tobacco manufacturers have decreased their contracts. We are very scared about this situation, because we do not know what to expect,” Clark said. In connection with the situation at hand Furnish has turned into a salesman, Clark started to grow cattle, chickens and also sells hay.

“Tobacco has been the means of our living, which significantly supported our economy in Kentucky for more than 100 years. I think that there is no any replace for this crop,” Furnish declared.

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