Local News

Tobacco Farmers Finally Get Settlement Checks

Posted January 12, 2006 5:17 a.m. EST

— The checks are in the mail. Farmers who were wondering if they would ever receive their Phase 2 checks from the tobacco settlement are breathing a sigh of relief.

Tobacco farmer Kenneth Clark got his Phase 2 tobacco check in the mail Thursday morning. Clark and other tobacco farmers who were due a final check from the tobacco settlement had waited for this day for nearly a year.

"A lot of people needed this money to get by," said Clark.

Clark wouldn't say the amount of his check, but said it was several thousand dollars. Many farmers will use the Phase 2 payment to make up for last year's losses. It was the first time in decades the government didn't set prices.

There were a couple of problems that delayed farmers from getting their Phase 2 checks in a timely manner. The bank in charge of payments discovered that checks weren't printed for 10,000 farmers. And in some cases, the bank issued the same check twice.

Also, the payments were tied up in court. Tobacco companies sought to end the Phase 2 payments when the government's price support system ended. A judge ruled in the farmers' favor.

Clark said the joke that the check was in the mail had started to wear thin.

"It was kind of hilarious there for awhile," said Clark. "Everybody was saying, 'Did you get your check? No, did you get yours?' Some of them that got two, we would say, 'How about giving me one of your checks?' So anyway, I think they are all out there. I'm glad it's settled and I know the farmers like myself are all glad to receive their checks."

Farmers are due another check in a few days. It's their first payment from the tobacco buyout. Those payments will run for 10 years.