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Next market for Carolina tobacco may be China

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says he believes China could help rescue North Carolina's tobacco industry.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is considering exporting one of the state's biggest cash crops to China.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Thursday that, with an increase in the North Carolina's cigarette tax and a smoking ban set to begin, tobacco farmers are preparing to take a hit in business.

Two counties – Johnston and Wilson – accounted for 13 percent of the nation's tobacco production in 2008.

"We're going to need to export 80 percent of tobacco that we grow in North Carolina in the coming years," said Troxler, who recently returned from a recent seven-day trip to China. "Because of all the different factors coming together, we've got to look for additional markets."

With a population of 1.3 billion people, China is the world's largest and most populous country with approximately 330 million smokers.

"China is a market, where if we crack that market, it could rescue the tobacco industry in North Carolina," he said.

Troxler said the country is now considering creating an agriculture office in North Carolina.

The state is also looking to expand exports for soybeans, cotton, poultry and pork, he said..


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