WILSON COUNTY, N.C. — This week, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to support a bill that would include a tobacco quota buyout. Farmers are trying not to get their hopes up, but some say it could be their last chance.
"It's getting to the point that we can't make a living," tobacco farmer Bradley Nichols said.
Nichols said a series of drastic quota cuts make it tough to pay bills. He said land and equipment loan payments were based on a much larger crop.
"We've had to make all kinds of sacrifices. We can't hire as much labor as we used to hire. Luxury things are just out of the question," he said.
Nichols inherited the tobacco fields from his father. His son is now growing too. He worries, without a tobacco buyout, the farm will not see another generation.
"It's a very hard thing to think that our way of life will just not exist anymore," he said.
This week, a House committee voted to back a $10 billion buyout, but it still has to get through Congress. Many farmers said they are encouraged by this week's progress with the tobacco buyout, but they know there is still a long way to go. Nichols said if a buyout does not come through this year, his farm probably will not last another.
"I'm hearing like a 30 percent cut for next year, that will put us out of business along with most every other farmer around," he said.
The House is expected to take up the buyout issue again on Thursday. The Senate would also have to pass buyout legislation before farmers would see any money.