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August 01, 2007

Some NC farmers grow more tobacco

Recent reports indicated that more tobacco is being raised in some North Carolina counties, particularly those along I-95. While this might come as a surprise because of the reduced incidence of smoking in the U.S. and the dismantling of the tobacco support program, an economist predicted it two decades ago.

Dr. Mike Walden, an economist with North Carolina Cooperative Extension at N.C. State University, said one of his colleagues predicted the increase 20 years ago when he looked at the impact of dismantling the tobacco price support program.

He "predicted that more tobacco could actually be grown in North Carolina when that program was dismantled. And here is the reason: North Carolina has some of the best physical characteristics for growing what's called flue-cured tobacco. The tobacco program, though, specified where that tobacco could be grown, and you couldn't easily move production around within a county or even within a state," Walden explains. "Now that that program is gone and anyone really can grow tobacco, what's happened is some of that production has migrated to North Carolina because we are very well-suited for growing tobacco. We are one of the best regions in the country for growing this type of tobacco.

"So really this should not have been surprising," Walden concludes, "and I think what it is saying is that tobacco can still be a money maker if you have the right conditions, and we do in many places in North Carolina. One trend, though, is that we've seen tobacco farms become much larger than in the past."

Posted by deeshore at August 1, 2007 08:11 AM