Farmers Paid Not to Grow Tobacco

Tobacco growers are being offered the option from the federal government to stop growing tobacco.

Kenneth Dasher of the Flue-cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corporation says, "They saw this as a method how they can pay tobacco farmers to get out of the business so that they can keep producing tobacco if they chose to or get out if they wanted out, but it wouldn't leave the communities hanging with nothing to sustain the economics in that community."

All aspects of the federal tobacco marketing quota and price support loan programs are ending beginning with the 2005 tobacco crop.

Signing up for the tobacco transition payment program, or tobacco buyout, is the final and only opportunity to receive federal payments related to tobacco production.

Kenneth says, "In Suwannee and Hamilton Counties I do know that farmers are switching over to production of peanuts, getting more into the production of cattle and other operations."

Some will still try their luck with tobacco.

Ryan Moore, tobacco farmer, says, "I'm also still going to grow some tobacco to see how we'll be affected by the world market, we'll be on the world market. We're going to try to compete and see what we can do."

Payments to tobacco quota owners and producers will be made in annual installments over a 10-year period. The sign-up period for the buyout program is March 14 through June 17.