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Area Tobacco Allotment Owners Watch Buyout Plan Carefully

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GRANVILLE COUNTY, N.C. — As the tobacco buyout plan continues to be worked out in Washington, residents in the tobacco-growing areas of the region are watching with interest.

Many of those folks are spouses of deceased tobacco farm owners.

Sue Wilkinson, whose husband, Richard, died last year, is one of those who was left a farm and its mortgage payments.

As the owner of her husband's right to grow tobacco, Sue now rents the acreage to her son Eddie Wilkinson.

"I'm a nurse, I work full time as a nurse and it's a good living," said Wilkinson, who owns the farm in Granville County. "But I could not pay for my farm and anything else that I had as a widow without my tobacco allotment."

With tobacco profits down, Wilkinson's source of steady income isn't a sure thing anymore. If the tobacco buyout fails to clear Congress, farmers are facing a 30 percent cut next year in how much tobacco they're allowed to grow.

"I don't have anybody to rely on now. I really realize now I missed my husband, I always knew he was going to help me out (and) that security is not there anymore and right now tobacco is my security and I feel like I'm losing that," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson is crossing her fingers that the tobacco buyout goes through. She already knows how she'll spend the money.

"(I might) pay for land, home," Wilkinson said.

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