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Tobacco farmers fret over recession, proposed taxes

Posted April 15, 2009

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— As tobacco farmers prepare their fields for this year's crop, they already worry about the one-two punch of a down economy and calls for higher cigarette taxes.

A federal cigarette tax of 62 cents per pack that went into effect this month triggered an increase in prices, and manufacturers are buying less tobacco in anticipation that sales will slump.

Bleak outlook for tobacco farmers Bleak outlook for tobacco farmers

"We got an immediate 15 percent cut in what we could grow this year on contract," Nash County farmer Greg Bunn said. "It's a 15 percent pay cut really, because I would say 90 percent of my income is dependent on tobacco."

Farmers throughout Nash County are in the same position. Many already paid for supplies and even planted some greenhouse seeds based on higher expected yields.

Charlie Tyson, Nash County's extension director, said a handful of local tobacco farmers have decided not to grow a crop this year, and he fears the situation could get worse for those who plant tobacco.

Gov. Beverly Perdue's proposed budget includes a $1-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax, and a bill to ban smoking in restaurants is working its way through the General Assembly.

"These farm families, they shoulder the burden of this tax revenue," Tyson said. "It's been an anti-stimulus effect."

Supporters of the cigarette tax increase say it could make a dent in the state's projected $3 billion budget deficit for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Bunn and other farmers say it would make their family budgets worse, however.

"We're willing to do our share, but we just feel like it's unfair to put it all on tobacco," Bunn said. "After a while, when do you kill the golden goose?"


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 16, 2009

    Are you serious, rc4nc? 88% of what a slave did benefited him?! You're just trolling, right? We're just going to have to disagree on that one. (wow)

    So, to other folks who actually agree that slavery was bad, bad & bad... my point is that just because something is currently "legal", does not mean it's "right". Growing & manufacturing an addictive product that kills people, is one of those things...legal, but unethical.

  • rc4nc Apr 16, 2009

    Slavery? Since you've compared the legal tobacco industry with the pre 1865 legality of slavery. The comment that "people used to make tons of $$ from that too...until it was outlawed", uses the same flawed logic. Respected economist have published studies that show that only 12% of the slaves expropriated labor was "taken" from him/her. 88% percent of what a slave produced directly benefited him/her. Using those numbers, Slaves were far better off than anyone who currently lives, works and pays taxes.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 16, 2009

    Oops... I meant to say "Just because something is LEGAL, does not mean that it's right." lol

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 16, 2009

    This country was created with slave labor...should we continue that merely because it was tradition? And, people used to make tons of $$ from that too...until it was outlawed.

    Just because something is illegal, does not mean that it's "right". Tobacco addicts people and kills them...including 3000 new young people every day. I'm surprised tobacco people can sleep at night. They are no better than the illegal drug suppliers whose products are not even as addictive or deadly.

  • rc4nc Apr 16, 2009

    Well, way back when Chief Justice John Marshall made the comment that the "Power to tax is the power to destroy", that has been the ultimate goal of taxes on tobacco. I'm just curious who's going to pay for all these nice programs you currently fund with the exorbitant taxes collected on tobacco, once you've succeeded in killing what's left of the tobacco industry?

  • tarheel4us Apr 15, 2009

    Ok, North Carolina was built on Tobacco!!! Almost every hospital in this state was first funded on Tobacco/Farmers money. Most tobacco farmers had to stop farming because of the buy out! Most farmers that are still doing tobacco have always done it, that is how they make money. Most of them it is the only thing they have ever done!! How would you feel if your income was in danger? If you don't smoke that is okay but atleast think of the people/farmers that are making a living on this. You want to talk about something that harms people and can kill them what about drinking, medicine (people get attached to these things and it can kill them) Why is it always smoking? If you aren't doing it don't worry about how it kills someone, it is there choice not yours!!!!! What about all the people killed because of drunk driving? There is a lot of things that kill people!! People kill people so should we now put a tax on living?

  • Made In USA Apr 15, 2009

    And you just wait....this so called sin tax on cigs and alcohol is going to backfire on you. One day SOON it will become a tax on everybody. And I hope it does...

  • Made In USA Apr 15, 2009

    Tobacco products are actually saving money for the government in the long run. When smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than non-smokers, that's 120 months of Social Security checks PER smoker they don't have to pay out. If everyone starts living 10 years longer, you'll see Social Security dry up excedinglt fast. For every pack of smokes sold, it saves Social Security about 32 cents. Do the math. Leave the word FREE in "The Land Of The Free" before it becomes history of the past.

  • momeeee Apr 15, 2009

    hereandnow99 - I pay my for my own insurance at a higher premium. I am sorry about your friend, but are they fit in other ways? ie: overweight, do not exercise? Perhaps thats why people are having more probs and everyone is blaming tobacco. People smoked A LONG time ago and only now has it become a problem...hmmm... Perhaps all the fatty food and sitting around all day. Think about it.

  • daisymom Apr 15, 2009

    Maybe the farmers still grow tobacco because they have the equipment, barns, harvesters, and greenhouses. I'm sure the equipment could be converted, but that would take money. Maybe they are like the rest of us, just trying to make a living. Do you change to this and spend money for converting and go in the hole or do you grow tobacco and go in the hole because no one can afford to buy the product? & I already know I am going to regret this posting.