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Farmers Hungry for Information on Tobacco Settlement

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Tobacco farmers met in Kinston Monday to learn more about recent tobacco settlements.
KINSTON — Heading into the new year, tobacco farmers arefacing uncertainty. As Congress prepares to decide how to deal withcigarette company lawsuit settlements, a farm group in Lenoir Countydecided they would try to educate tobacco farmers about the issues athand.

Farmers filed into the meeting, starved for information. The cigarettecompanies' big settlement has been big news, but has not brought answersto the questions raised by farmers.

Among the proposals now being considered, some make special provisionsto pay tobacco farmers while others do not. A vote on these proposalscould come early next year, so farm groups are trying to educate fast.

Director of Tobacco Stabilization, Jimmy Hall, says farmers neededinformation.

Organizers originally expected about 50 people to show up. Instead, they received more than 300 farmers from across the state -- all anxiousto hear the proposals. They gathered in a livestock arena.

Farmer Ronald Parks is looking for answers because he has structured hislife around the golden leaf.

After just one lesson, farmers don't have all the answers. They do,however, know which proposals they don't like. Unfortunately, it appeared there were quite a few of those.

Farm groups hope farmers contact lawmakers to make their feelings clear.President Clinton has said he will only sign a tobacco settlement if it'sfair for tobacco farmers.

Photographer:GilHollingsworth

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