Local News

N.C. Tobacco Farmers Meet in Franklin County to Build Unity

Posted December 27, 1998

— Tobacco farmers say their livelihood could be snuffed out. The golden leaf has not been so golden this year.

The tobacco settlement, and a cut in the amount they can sell next year, have farmers nervous about the future.

Monday, tobacco farmers drove to Franklin County from across the state.

Inside a tobacco warehouse, they gathered by the hundreds to build unity.

Jimmy Lee is a tobacco farmer. He helped organize this rally.

"What we've had to do is look at other ways of income," said Lee.

Lee and the other tobacco farmers will tell you that quota cuts and decreasing demand for the golden leaves could soon leave them with no future.

"A third of the growers will not be here a year from now," said tobacco farmer Keith Parrish.

And quota cuts may only get worse in the eyes of one tobacco lobbyist.

"I don't know how else you spell devastation than 17, 17 and another 17," said lobbyist Richard Miller.

Lee hopes this message will mobilize the farmers into a powerful force. Their goal is to get their fair share of the national tobacco deal.

"They just want to grow tobacco and make a profit and be the benchmark of their communities," Lee said.

Lee hopes the growers will now find ways to get that message to Congress in Washington.

In the next few months, North Carolina's attorney general is expected to announce a plan that will allocate more money to farmers.

The money would come from our state's $5 billion share of the national tobacco settlement.

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