Local News

Farmers Hungry for Information on Tobacco Settlement

Posted December 22, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Heading into the new year, tobacco farmers are facing uncertainty. As Congress prepares to decide how to deal with cigarette company lawsuit settlements, a farm group in Lenoir County decided they would try to educate tobacco farmers about the issues at hand.

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

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

Director of Tobacco Stabilization, Jimmy Hall, says farmers needed information.

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

Farmer Ronald Parks is looking for answers because he has structured his life 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's fair for tobacco farmers.

Photographer:Gil Hollingsworth