Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How much flue-cured is really out there?

Flue-cure harvest
A good flue-cured crop was coming out of the fields in mid-July (as in this photo taken near Hookerton, N.C.) But could it be as big as USDA projects? See below.


All indications are that we will have a big flue-cured crop. The NASS thinks it is going to be really big. On July 11, it projected flue-cured production at 536 million pounds, up 18 percent from 2013. Acreage was up only one percent at 232,000. For the individual states: NC--416.3 million pounds, up 15 percent, on 181,000 acres, up a little; VA--50.6 million pounds, up nearly seven percent, on 22,000 acres, up two percent; GA--35 million pounds, an unbelievable 56 per cent on 14,000 acres, up nine percent; SC--34.5 million pounds, up nearly 40 per cent, on 15,000 acres, up three percent. The highest state yield projection was 2,500 pounds in Georgia and 2,300 pounds in the other three states. Burley, dark and other types were not included in this report but will be in the one in August. Florida does not participate in the survey. 

A Georgia yield of 2,500 pounds would have been "toppy" even before the hot weather of three weeks ago and continuing appearances of black shank, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist. "Now it seems very unlikely," he says. New incidences of black shank keep appearing, frequently on land that
has been rotated, he adds. Varietal resistance hasn't helped much, perhaps because rain during and after transplanting injured the roots and allowed the black shank organism to bypass the resistance. 

A new era for NC tobacco: The long-awaited assessment on N.C. flue-cured finally became a reality on July 11. A referendum on the checkoff passed after a three-month balloting period. The assessment was approved on 88 percent of ballots in a mail-in referendum, considerably more than the two-thirds majority needed for approval. "The margin of support for this effort indicates the level of priority our farmers place on having a strong and organized voice to advocate on important issues," says TGANC President Tim Yarbrough of Prospect Hill, N.C. Buyers will collect the assessment and submit it to the N.C. Department of Agriculture for distribution to the association. Refunds can be obtained. A rate of up to 15 cents per hundred pounds of flue-cured sold in N.C. was approved, but TGANC plans to collect only 10 cents this year. Checkoff programs supporting tobacco research and export promotion in N.C. will continue.  

With the approval on the referendum, growers now have an official voice to speak for them, says Yarbrough. "We can present a united front. Of course, no association's members are going to agree on everything, but we need a method of responding to issues as they arise. Six months ago, who would have thought that child labor on tobacco farms would be an issue? But Graham Boyd [TGANC executive vice president] has had to spend a world of time on this issue lately and will have to spend more. We must make sure can act quickly when questions like this are asked. The checkoff will help make it possible." 

Long overdue: The statewide vote on a commodity promotion assessment for tobacco, the first ever in N.C., was long overdue. "Until now, tobacco was one of the few commodities in our state that didn't have a checkoff program to support its work," said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, himself a past TGANC board member. More details about the effect of the referendum will appear in future issues. 


Four hundred years of American leaf export: In 1614, the first tobacco exported from what is now the United States made its way by ship from Jamestown, Va., to England. To honor this anniversary, a presentation on how the international trade in tobacco began will be part of the program at the Virginia Tobacco Field Day on July 30 at the Southern Piedmont Research Center.  Wayne Randolph, an agriculture specialist at Colonial
Hand suckering, Colonial style, by costumed
reenactors at the Jamestown Settlement
living history park.
Williamsburg, will be the speaker. The fortieth anniversary of the station and the hundredth anniversary of the Extension Service--both taking place this year--will also be recognized in the program. It starts at 3:30 p.m. After dinner at 5 p.m., the participants will tour tobacco research plots at the station. For more information, call 434-292-5331 or email makenny @vt.edu
The station is about 1.5 miles east of Blackstone on Virginia Rt. 40 across from the Fort Pickett airport.  


DATES TO REMEMBER
  • July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia Tobacco Field Day (see above for details).
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grains and Tobacco Field Day. UK REC, Princeton, Ky. Contact: 270-365-7541 ext 264.
  • August 4-5,  Kentucky Tobacco Industry Tour. Contact: Bob Pearce, 859 257-5110.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.


BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions.
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE

We will be GAP certified 

For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.



Tytun rated 1

Old Belt Tobacco Sales. 1395 Old Belt Way, Rural Hall, N.C. 27045. Call 336-969-6891.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BLACK SHANK ISN'T BACKING OFF

July is for touring: The N.C. Tobacco Tour will begin July 14 in Wendell and finish July 15 at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, Rocky Mt. Above: A presentation at the Upper Coastal Plain station on the 2012 tour. See Dates to Remember for details of other tours.

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD, July 8, 2014

Burley in central Kentucky is doing well, says grower Roger Quarles of Georgetown, Ky. "It looks as good as you could ever want it to look," he says. "The early-set tobacco is a week or 10 days from topping, and the later-set looks good too." He said he hadn't heard of a single instance of black shank in the area, not even in fields that have been hotbeds for the disease in the past. He expects harvest to start around August 1. 

Topping has just started for dark growers in Kentucky and Tennessee. Planting appears to be done. "Some dark tobacco was set out on June 30 near Murray, Ky.," said Andy Bailey, Kentucky-Tennessee tobacco specialist. "I think that was the last that will be planted. A lot of our larger growers finished 10 to 12 days ago." No serious crop problems had developed. He saw some temporary phosphorus deficiency on some of the lower leaves, but he predicted that the plants would recover completely. There was no plant shortage. "I am not aware of anyone who didn't get enough plants," he says.

Just enough plants in TennesseeJay Head of Clarksville, Tn.,who grows dark tobacco and burley, also produces commercial plants. He thinks farmers in his area were able to locate the plants they needed. But it was close. "I sold the last plants I intended to sell on July 3," he says. "When we were done, we only had 100 trays left, out of about 6,000."

Hurricane Arthur only affected some coastal counties in North Carolina. In Pender County, 30 to 50 mile per hour winds did some damage, says Mark Seitz, Pender County Extension agent. But in general, he says, "Arthur's worst went north." Drought was more widely reported last week. "Tobacco is very stressed and drawn up," said Brian Parrish, Harnett County Extension agent, in an NASS report. "Many farmers are beginning to irrigate their tobacco." In the same report, Joey Knight, Caswell County Extension, said black shank is showing up in tobacco fields in his Piedmont county, especially in the 326 variety...A little harvesting has taken place in eastern N.C. Most farmers have applied a couple of contacts and are getting close to MH application, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. The supply of plants was adequate but some had to be brought in from out of state, he says. "But in the Piedmont, we heard of farmers having extra plants."

Some growers started harvesting in South Carolina last week, but most, at least in the Pee Dee region, are still topping. "Generally, the crop looks pretty good," says William Hardee, area Extension agronomy agent for Horry and Marion counties. "We have some tobacco that looks great around the Green Sea and Nichols area (near the North Carolina line). Some is chest high now." But other tobacco doesn't look so good. "Some looks like it was stunted by the heavy rainfall," Hardee says. There have been few problems. "I have seen a bit of tomato spotted wilt virus and a little bacterial wilt and black shank, but not much," he says.  

Extreme heat is making it difficult for Georgia and Florida growers to apply sucker control chemicals, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist for the two states. And that is not all that is making this crop difficult in the Deep South. "Heavy infestations of black shank continue to occur," Moore says. "We see plants melt down more quickly now than normal, again because of the heat." A curious note: "There's been extensive damage this season in fields that had reasonable rotations," says Moore. "And it doesn't seem to matter what the variety is." 

The four types grown in Pennsylvania all got off to a good start, says Jeff Graybill, Pa. agronomy Extension educator. "I would describe the condition of the tobacco crop as good to excellent," says Graybill, who is stationed in Lancaster. "We have good uniform stands, and I have had very few calls on disease issues." The supply of plants was tight, but Graybill says as far as he knows, no fields went unplanted. He estimates acreage at close to 9,000, a little more than last year. Burley accounted for more than 3,000 acres, Southern Maryland for about 3,000, Pennsylvania seedleaf around 2,500 and Green River dark air-cured perhaps 300 acres. Green River is still relatively new in Pennsylvania, but Graybill says farmers have been successful in producing marketable leaf of this type. 

OUTSIDE THE U.S...
Zimbabwe will exceed 200 million kilograms in sales for the first time in quite a while, if it hasn't already. Auction and contract markets in Zimbabwe are well on their way to selling the country's largest crop in 14 years, said the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) last month. TIMB said that 193.1 million kilograms had been sold at the country's three auction floors and at contract facilities through the eightieth day of marketing (June 16), 32 percent more than in the same period last year. At least 125 total sales days are expected. If daily sales average--as expected--a million kilograms a day, the total would come in at around 230 million kilograms. That would be short of the previous high of 260 million kilograms in 1998 but better than the 227 million kilograms of 2000, the last time volume exceeded 200 million. 

The Canadian flue-cured crop is up and growing, says Fred Neukamm, chairman of the Ontario tobacco board. "We are three to four weeks from topping," he says. "The crop is about on schedule, or maybe a few days behind. It is getting to the point that we could use some rain. Some growers are beginning to irrigate." Because of the cold and the cloudy weather experienced this winter, the plants didn't "toughen" in the greenhouse. "But in the field, the crop is not too bad, considering." Production is expected to be down slightly from 2013. "Both acreage and poundage are down by six percent, and two fewer growers contracted to grow tobacco this year," he says.

Ontario growers have benefited considerably since Grand River Enterprises (GRE) began selling leaf to China two years ago. The company, which processes leaf in a factory in Simcoe, Ont., is owned by the Six Nations Indian reservation, which is located on the edge of the Ontario leaf production area. GRE is now the number two buyer of Ontario leaf, after Alliance One. 

INDUSTRY NOTE
Who will own Lorillard? Or RJR? Or Santa Fe? The speculation has been rife in recent months about possible sales or mergers of cigarette companies neighboring or associated with RJR. A respected tobacco financial analyst has predicted that an acquisition of Lorillard by RJR is all but a sure thing. Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities says she believes there is a 90 percent chance it will happen. She also thinks that such a deal could result in a sale or spinoff of RJR's subsidiary Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, which could be worth as much as $6 billion, about 166 percent more than what Reynolds paid for it. 

Still another possibility: British American might buy more of R.J. Reynolds' stock than the 42 percent it currently owns. It could potentially buy a controlling share, assuming regulatory agencies approve.  

DATES TO REMEMBER

  • July 10, 8:15 a.m. South Carolina Tobacco Tour, Pee Dee Research and Education Center, 2200 Pocket Rd., Florence, S.C. The tour will end at 3:30 in Sumter County.
  • July 14, 3 p.m. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Edwards Farm, 200 Salem Church Rd., Wendell, N.C. 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Welcome Dinner (registration required), Fargo Cattle Company, 1007 Shepard School Rd,, Zebulon, N.C.
  • July 15, 8 a.m. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, 2811 Nobles Mill Pond Rd, Rocky Mt., N.C. Ends with lunch at noon.
  • July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia Tobacco Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va. Contact: Margaret Kenny, 434-292-5331 or makenny@vt.edu.
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grains and Tobacco Field Day. UK REC, Princeton, Ky. Contact: 270-365-7541 ext 264.
  • August 4-5. Lexington, Kentucky. Tobacco Industry Tour. Contact: Bob Pearce, (859) 257-5110.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.



BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions.
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.


Tytun rated 1

Old Belt Tobacco Sales. 1395 Old Belt Way, Rural Hall, N.C. 27045. Call 336-969-6891.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GEORGIANS BELTED BY AGGRESSIVE BLACK SHANK

Where did this aggressive black shank come from?
asks pathologist Paul Bertrand. 
Black shank rose up "with a vengeance" in Georgia and Florida in the last month, says J. Michael Moore, Extension tobacco specialist for the two states. "We are seeing it in some fields where we wouldn't expect it--fields with a good rotation and even some fields that hadn't had tobacco in years," says Moore. A good example: The Ben Smith farm in Coffee County, Ga., which Paul Bertrand, Georgia plant pathologist, said was struck by "the most aggressive black shank we have ever seen (see photo above). The field had been in pecan trees for the last half century, with pasture surrounding the trees. The trees were removed and what was believed to be the first tobacco crop ever grown in this field was planted in 2013. The second was planted in 2014, but it didn't last long. The damage was so bad that the farmer has disced it up since this picture was taken on June 11.  

A further explanation of how to treat black shank in burley. Editor's Note--The following item appeared in a shorter form in the last issue of Tobacco Farmer Newsletter. Since then, I have received a corrected and extended version of the same piece from the original source, former Extension plant pathologist in Kentucky Kenny Seebold. Since it contains good additional information, I am going to run the amended version here. Apologies for the duplications: "Where black shank has been a problem in the past, consider making a pre-plant application of Ridomil Gold at a half pint per acre if applied in setter-water or one pint per acre if applied as a broadcast spray to soil. This would be the same as a half quart per acre of Ultra Flourish or four to six quarts of MetaStar. For light-to-moderate disease pressure, the first application of fungicide can be delayed one to two weeks after transplanting. For extended control of black shank, make a supplemental fungicide application (one pint of Ridomil, one quart of Ultra Flourish, or two quarts of MetaStar) at layby or at first cultivation and again at layby. Sprays made after transplanting should be directed toward the soil and incorporated immediately by cultivation or irrigation. An inch or two of rain will also incorporate these products. Best results are generally obtained when resistant varieties are planted."


Price outlook holding: Unless flue-cured acreage is up much more than expected or unless the growing season is poor, the price for the current flue-cured crop should remain strong, says N.C. Extension economist Blake Brown. But it probably not as strong as in 2013, when the average price was estimated by USDA at $2.115 a pound. The March Planting Intentions report projected 232,000 acres, up 3,500 acres from the 228,800 acre 2013 crop. Based on past experience, that may be a low projection. "In previous years, planting intentions were as much as 10,000 acres below the actual crop acreage for the year in question," says Brown. But the supply of transplants may not have been adequate to support a much larger crop.
  
The plant shortage never materialized in Kentucky. "Even now, from what I am hearing, you can still find plants available if you need them," says Bob Pearce, Kentucky Extension tobacco specialist. But not many do--85 percent or perhaps 90 percent of the state's burley has been seeded already. The crop has gotten off to a good start, but because of cloudy days, there has been some early blooming. "I think we might see some more," Pearce says.

There was definitely a shortage of plants in Georgia and Florida. "We saw quite a scramble at the end," says Moore. "All ours were set, and the last plants that went in were from North Carolina. But I think nearly everybody was able to plant the acres they wanted to." He makes a very rough estimate of 15,000 acres planted in Georgia and 1,500 acres in Florida. The crop started out about two weeks behind in both states but has caught up by at least half a week. He expects harvest to begin in 2 ½ weeks.

Planting in the N.C. Piedmont appears complete. "I don't know anyone who is not done planting," says Dennis White, owner of the Old Belt Tobacco Sales auction warehouse in Rural Hall, N.C. "There weren't many plants to spare but everyone was able to plant the acres they wanted." So far, the tobacco looks good, he says. Some of it was laid by last week.
  

Spotted wilt infestations are much higher in Georgia and Florida than predicted considering the cold winter. Says Moore, "It defies logic to have so much TSWV after such cold weather. I would place the average infestation now at 15 to 20 percent of the plants." That is not the worst incidence of spotted wilt Type 14 tobacco has ever had. "But it certainly was a surprise," says Moore.

Position changes: Kenny Seebold (see earlier item) has left his longtime post as Kentucky Extension plant pathologist and is now working as product development manager for the fungicide line of Valent USA...Jeff Vice is now the tobacco specialist for the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. He will be responsible for grading and purchasing of burley with the goal of increasing the amount of tobacco purchased and expanding marketing to the trade. Vice is definitely an old hand in the leaf business--he has 38 years experience, starting with Universal Leaf and later with Philip Morris USA/Altria.

If you are hand weeding tobacco, pull the weeds from the soil before set occurs, says Matthew Vann, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "Once weed seed develop, you can actually spread them by hand removal." He also recommends that once you pull the weeds, you remove them from the field. "In rare situations, weeds such as grass and amaranth species have been known to 're-root' when left on the soil surface," he says.

Dates to remember:

  • June 26, 8 a.m. Tobacco Field Day. UT Highland Rim Ag Research and Education Center Springfield, Tn. Contacts: Barry Sims at 615-382-3130 or bsims@utk.edu.
  • July 14-15. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Tuesday: Opening dinner, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Tour Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, Rocky Mt., N.C. Further events to follow. 
  • July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia Tobacco Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va. Contact: Margaret Kenny, 434-292-5331 or  makenny@vt.edu.
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grains and Tobacco Field Day. UK REC, Princeton, Ky. Contact: 270-365-7541 ext 264.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.
Tytun rated 1

BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse


Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.

We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions.
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BLACK SHANK BUSTS OUT IN GEORGIA, THRIPS IN N.C.




Tractor
A flue-cured grower near Four Oaks, N.C., raises dust as he cultivates his tobacco on June 2.
 REPORTS FROM THE FIELD June 4, 2014

FLUE-CURED  
In North Carolina, transplanting is nearly complete, says Loren Fisher, N.C. Extension tobacco specialist. "A few farms are still transplanting in the Piedmont. I expect they will finish this week. Layby is just beginning 
Thrips
Inspecting for thrips: Loren Fisher (left), N.C. Extension tobacco specialist, checks young flue-cured tobacco for thrips at the N.C. Central Crops Research Station in Clayton, N.C., at a field day on June 2. Looking on are TGANC executive Graham Boyd (standing), and farmer Bennie Lee, Sanford, N.C.
in the East." The supply of plants was tight but most intended acres were planted, he says. But there may be more late-set plants out there this year than the state has ever had, says Graham Boyd, executive vice president of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. "There were significant plantings with plants from re-seeded greenhouses." Fisher says that based on research, there is not much reason to expect a yield reduction on plants set before May 24. But a hot June could cause problems... 
In Virginia, the flue-cured crop has gotten off to a good start, says David Reed, Virginia Extension tobacco specialist. A few growers are still transplanting while some of the earliest will be laid by this week. Transplanting is probably 98 percent complete. Plant supply was tight but most growers managed to find available transplants, says Reed. "Very few acres will be left unplanted"... In South Carolina, Georgetown County Extension agent Kyle Daniel said in a June 2 report that "tobacco is really starting to look better and better as warmer weather and good moisture is allowing the crop to grow at a steady pace"... In Georgia, black shank is a problem. One farmer reported 80 percent black shank in an 11-acre field that had only been in tobacco one year (2013) out of the last 100. "We don't know how the inoculum got in there," says Moore. "In recent years, it had been in pastures and pecan trees." Fortunately, it is not that intense for most of the state, but black shank is above normal, he says. "The reason is probably that we had a lot of weather events after planting that involved excessive rain, then drying." Roots and stems were injured, allowing the black shank pathogen to enter the plant. Some plants collapsed without ever yellowing. 

In Kentucky, Kenny Seebold, until recently Extension plant pathologist, suggests that where black shank has been a problem in the past, consider making a pre-plant application of Ridomil Gold at a half pint per acre if applied in setter water, or one pint per acre if applied as a broadcast spray to soil. This would equal a half quart per acre of Ultra Flourish or four to six quarts of MetaStar. If the disease pressure is light to moderate, you can delay the first application one to two weeks. For extended control of black shank, make a supplemental fungicide application (one pint of Ridomil Gold or one quart of Ultra Flourish, or two quarts of MetaStar) at lay by, or at first cultivation and again at lay by Best results are generally obtained when resistant varieties are planted. In middle Tennessee, Extension agent Jason Evitts in Trousdale County said in a June 2 report, "It has been a great couple of weeks, and tobacco transplanting has caught up from a late start. But tobacco already transplanted could use some rain"... In southwest Virginia, there will be a shortage of burley plants because fewer farmers are growing plants. "Most of the growers who sell plants have sold out already," says Danny Peek, Virginia District Extension director in Abingdon, Va. "If anything goes wrong that requires replanting, our supply could turn out way short."



OUTSIDE THE U.S... Transplanting in Canada got going in earnest last week, which is a little late, a source in Ontario tells TFN. "We are about a week behind schedule," he said. "The weather has been cold and cloudy, and we have had more than our fair share of precipitation. Transplant quality and supply seem to be quite good." He doesn't see any of the problems with plants that so many American farmers are experiencing. "Over 95 percent of the greenhouses here have furnaces, so our plants are nice--but expensive," he says. He expected setting to be going at full speed by now. Almost all Canada tobacco is flue-cured grown in southern Ontario.

In other tobacco developments: 

Unusually large numbers of thrips are appearing on flue-cured tobacco in North Carolina. Counts between 30 and 50 thrips per leaf are common, and some classic "silver-leafing" foliar damage, which is caused by thrips' rasping the upper leaf surface, has been seen. Hannah Burrack, N.C. Extension entomologist, says, "The current thrips are likely the third generation, and if so they arrived about as predicted. The fourth generation flight (in Wilson County) is expected to begin around June 10, so we may observe additional thrips populations there soon." Also, some of the winter annual weeds that are overwinter hosts to thrips seem to be dying off at fast pace now, forcing thrips to find a new host. Nevertheless, Burrack does not recommend spraying of thrips at this time. "The foliar feeding damage by thrips now is likely negligible," she says. "It is occurring early in the season on leaves that will be on the lower part of the plant and subject to much more abuse before harvest." Foliar treatments are generally not very effective against thrips because they are not persistent and are difficult to time, she adds. Read the N.C. State recommendations at TSWV Risk and Thrips Forecasting Tool. 
A tobacco landmark changes hands: The historic Reynolds Building has been sold by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to a 
Reynolds Bldg.
The Reynolds Building
company that will convert it into a hotel, restaurant and upscale apartments. Located in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., the 22-story building was completed in 1929, and with its strong resemblance to the Empire State Building (built by the same architectural team), it has been an imposing fixture on the city's skyline ever since. A statement from RJRT said the new owners are expected to honor its place in the community as they transform it to its new use. The parent company, Reynolds American, decided that the building was expendable in 2008.
  
Dates to remember: 
  • June 9, 7 p.m. Georgia-Florida Tobacco Tour, begins with a supper in Live Oak, Fl., and end near Baxley, Ga., after lunch on June 11. Contact: J. Michael Moore at 229-392-6424.
  • June 26, 8 a.m. Tobacco Field Day. UT Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center Springfield, Contact: Barry Sims 615 382 3130 or bsims@utk.edu.
  • July 14-15. N.C. Tobacco Tour. Details to follow. 
  • July 30, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia Tobacco Field Day. Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone, Va. Contact: Margaret Kenny, 434 292 5331 or makenny@vt.edu.
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grains and Tobacco Field Day. UK REC, Princeton, Ky. Contact: 270-365-7541 ext 264.
  • August 7, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tobacco Twilight Tour, Murray State University West Farm, Murray, Ky. Contact: Andy Bailey, tobacco specialist, at 270-365-7541 ext. 240.
Edited by Chris Bickers, Raleigh, N.C., Phone 919 789 4631 or email chrisbickers@gmail.com


Tytun rated 1

BIG M TOBACCO WAREHOUSE 
 
1723 Goldsboro St. SW, Wilson, N.C., 
in the old Liberty Warehouse
 
 
Greg Goins is the auctioneer at Big M Warehouse.
 
We will hold both sealed bid auctions
and live auctions.
 
 
We promise 
HONEST AND TRUSTWORTHY 
SERVICE
 
 
For more information, contact Mann Mullen at 919-496-9033 
or the warehouse switchboard at 252-206-1447.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CHILD LABOR ACCUSATIONS--DOCUMENTS

Government, Companies Should Provide Protection
Children working on tobacco farms in the United States are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and other dangers, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Big tobacco profits from child labor in US tobacco fields. Take action now:  http://www.hrw.org/ChildFreeTobacco %23ChildFreeTobacco
While US law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to children, children can legally work on tobacco farms in the US. The world’s largest tobacco companies buy tobacco grown on US farms, but none have child labor policies that sufficiently protect children from hazardous work.
The 138-page report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in US Tobacco Farming,” documents conditions for children working on tobacco farms in four states where 90 percent of US tobacco is grown: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Children reported vomiting, nausea, headaches, and dizziness while working on tobacco farms, all symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning. Many also said they worked long hours without overtime pay, often in extreme heat without shade or sufficient breaks, and wore no, or inadequate, protective gear.
“As the school year ends, children are heading into the tobacco fields, where they can’t avoid being exposed to dangerous nicotine, without smoking a single cigarette” said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It’s no surprise the children exposed to poisons in the tobacco fields are getting sick.”
The report is based on interviews with 141 child tobacco workers, ages seven to 17.
Children working in tobacco farming face other serious risks as well, Human Rights Watch said. They may use dangerous tools and machinery, lift heavy loads, and climb several stories without protection to hang tobacco in barns. Children also reported that tractors sprayed pesticides in nearby fields. They said the spray drifted over them, making them vomit, feel dizzy, and have difficulty breathing and a burning sensation in their eyes.
Many of the pesticides used in tobacco production are known neurotoxins, poisons that alter the nervous system. The long-term effects of childhood pesticide exposure can include cancer, problems with learning and cognition, and reproductive health issues.Children are especially vulnerable because their bodies and brains are still developing.Human Rights Watch sent letters to 10 US and global tobacco companies and met with many of them to encourage these companies to adopt policies, or strengthen existing policies, to prevent hazardous child labor in their supply chains.
“Tobacco companies shouldn’t benefit from hazardous child labor,” Wurth said. “They have a responsibility to adopt clear, comprehensive policies that get children out of dangerous work on tobacco farms, and make sure the farms follow the rules.”

Health Hazards for ChildrenSeveral hundred thousand children work in US agriculture every year, but no data is available on the number working in tobacco farming. Many children interviewed by Human Rights Watch described going to work on tobacco farms at age 11 or 12, primarily during the summer, to help support their families. Most were the children of Hispanic immigrants who lived in communities where tobacco was grown and who attended school full-time.
Children Human Rights Watch interviewed described feeling suddenly, acutely ill while working on tobacco farms. “It happens when you’re out in the sun,” said a16-year-old girl in Kentucky. “You want to throw up. And you drink water because you’re so thirsty, but the water makes you feel worse. You throw up right there when you’re cutting [tobacco plants], but you just keep cutting.” A 12-year-old boy in North Carolina described a headache he had while working:“It was horrible. It felt like there was something in my head trying to eat it.”
Acute nicotine poisoning – often called Green Tobacco Sickness – occurs when workers absorb nicotine through their skin while handling tobacco plants, particularly when plants are wet. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. Though the long-term effects are uncertain, someresearch suggests that nicotine exposure during adolescence may have consequences for brain development.
Several children told Human Rights Watch that they had been injured while working with sharp tools and heavy machinery. In Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, children often hand-harvest tall tobacco plants by cutting them with small axes and spearing the stalks onto long sticks with pointed ends. The children said they often cut or puncture themselves on the hands, arms, legs, and feet. A 16-year-old boy described an accident while harvesting tobacco in Tennessee: “I cut myself with the hatchet.… I probably hit a vein or something because it wouldn’t stop bleeding and I had to go to the hospital…. My foot was all covered in blood.” One 17-year-old boy interviewed by Human Rights Watch lost two fingers in an accident with a mower used to trim small tobacco plants.Almost none of the children Human Rights Watch interviewed said that employers had given them health and safety training or protective gear. Instead, children typically covered themselves with black plastic garbage bags in an attempt to keep their clothes dry when they worked in fields wet with dew or rain.
Federal data on fatal occupational injuries indicates that agriculture is the most dangerous industry open to young workers. In 2012, two-thirds of children under 18 who died from occupational injuries were agricultural workers, and there were more than 1,800 nonfatal injuries to children under 18 working on US farms.Most children interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they had no access to toilets or a place to wash their hands at their worksites, leaving them with tobacco and pesticides residue on their hands, even during mealtimes.

Lack of Protection Under US LawUnder US labor law, children working in agriculture can work longer hours, at younger ages, and in more hazardous conditions than children in any other industry. Children as young as 12 can be hired for unlimited hours outside of school hours on a farm of any size with parental permission, and there is no minimum age for children to work on small farms. At 16, child farmworkers can do jobs deemed hazardous by the US Department of Labor. Children in all other sectors must be 18 to do hazardous work.Regulations proposed by the Labor Department in 2011 would have prohibited children under 16 from working on tobacco farms, but they were withdrawn in 2012.
“The US has failed America’s families by not meaningfully protecting child farmworkers from dangers to their health and safety, including on tobacco farms,”Wurth said. “The Obama administration should endorse regulations that make it clear that work on tobacco farms is hazardous for children, and Congress should enact laws to give child farmworkers the same protections as all other working children.”

Role of Tobacco CompaniesHuman Rights Watch presented its findings and recommendations to 10 companies that purchase tobacco grown in the United States, including eight cigarette manufacturing companies: Altria Group (parent of Philip Morris USA), British American Tobacco, China National Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Group, Japan Tobacco Group, Lorillard, Philip Morris International, Reynolds American, and two international leaf merchants who purchase tobacco leaf and sell to manufacturers: Alliance One and Universal Corporation.
All of the companies except China National Tobacco responded and said they are concerned about child labor in their supply chains. However, the companies’ approaches do not sufficiently protect children from hazardous work, Human Rights Watch said. In some cases, companies allow for lower standards of protection for children in their US supply chain than for children working on tobacco farms in all other countries from which they purchase tobacco.
Philip Morris International has the most comprehensive global child labor policy among the companies contacted. Since 2010, Philip Morris International has sought to carry out the policy through training and monitoring in its supply chain worldwide. In 2009, Human Rights Watch documented abuses on farms supplying tobacco to a Philip Morris International subsidiary in Kazakhstan.
Human Rights Watch urged companies to prohibit children from engaging in all tasks that pose risks to their health and safety, including any work involving direct contact with tobacco plants or dry tobacco, due to the risk of nicotine exposure. Companies should also establish effective internal and third-party monitoring of labor policies.“Farming is hard work anyway, but children working on tobacco farms get so sick that they throw up, get covered by pesticides, and have no real protective gear,”Wurth said. “Tobacco companies should get children out of hazardous work on tobacco farms and support efforts to provide them with alternative educational and vocational opportunities.”
Big tobacco profits from child labor in US tobacco fields. Take action now:  http://www.hrw.org/ChildFreeTobacco %23ChildFreeTobacco



May 14, 2014

Tobacco Growers Respond to Human Rights Watch Report

Today the Human Rights Watch released a report entitled “Tobacco’s Hidden Children”. The report makes note that greater than 90% of US tobacco production occurs in four primary states which includes North Carolina. It makes allegations that the presence of children working on farms is wide spread and a prolific problem. While the United States labor laws permit children to be engaged in certain agricultural work endeavors, the report is careful to point out that its findings are not an illegal problem in America. 

The HRW report suggests that child labor is an acceptable practice, and that it goes largely “unchecked”. The Tobacco Growers Association of NC (TGANC) takes issue with such distortions of facts. In the United States, enforcement of child labor laws is the jurisdiction of both the US Department of Labor as well as the State Departments of Labor. It is also known that any worker may anonymously report concerns or violations to these resource agencies. 

Further, the departments of labor are required to make random and unannounced inspection visits to farms in order to assure compliance of all related laws and regulations. Data reports that the US Department of Labor only recorded one incident of child labor violations in NC in the crop season for 2012. 

It is widely understood that agriculture can be a labor intensive vocation and is known to embody long hours of work needs during peak periods given its often perishable condition of certain crops being harvested. Federal agencies rank agriculture as the second most hazardous occupation in America behind mining. These are not new facts to emphasize in the HRW report. 

These conditions are also well understood by any person who chooses to become engaged in farming either as an owner/operator or employee of a farm. It is incumbent upon farmers who employ workers to understand labor laws and to work diligently to obey these requirements. It is the opinion of the Tobacco Growers Association of NC that the great majority of the farmers in the state place tremendous value and appreciation on the workforce that is willing to help them harvest crops. Most farmers go beyond what is required of them in terms of labor compliance. 

Protecting and providing support for workers is an important aspect in maintaining a stable and quality workforce. Farmers understand that mistreatment of workers or violations of labor laws is the quickest way to create a situation of insufficient workers to harvest a crop in a timely and quality fashion. Every farmer in NC will tell you that their employees are among the greatest asset in the success of the family farming operation. There is absolutely zero benefit in mistreating farm workers.

TGANC condemns any mistreatment or misuse of workers. The fact that HRW points to 141 incidents of children working in a farm environment should be considered as isolated and rare occurrences in the United States and most certainly in North Carolina. The findings in this report should be viewed in this country as the exception rather than the norm. Additionally, it is unfortunate that the report chose to only focus on the crop of tobacco when there are dozens of other commodities that depend on hand harvest labor. It brings to question either a hidden agenda or some other adverse motivation that is anti-tobacco.

Our state produces approximately 400 million pounds of flue-cure tobacco in a season on 180,000 acres of land. It is estimated that the approximate number of farms in the state is 1,600 to 2,000. On average these farms may employ an average of 15-20 workers at peak periods. 

This calculation would equate to roughly 30,000 employees. Most of these workers will be seasonal and a high percentage will be classified as “guest workers”. If all 141 incidents in the HRW report had occurred in NC alone, that would be a ratio of .004 percent of the workers. 

Could the statement be made that 99.006 % are doing it correctly? And, again the USDOL only reported one incident of child labor in 2012 in NC.

Great strides have been achieved in the US tobacco industry over the past four decades to drastically reduce the amount of labor required to grow and harvest a crop of tobacco. In a 1965 NC State University report by the agricultural economics department it recorded that the crop required 600 man hours per acre grown and delivered and average yield of 1,600 pounds. In 2013 that statistic is 50-75 man hours per acre and the yield average is above 2,300 pounds. 

Fifty percent of the tobacco in NC is in fact, machine harvested. All modern operations use bulk curing barns and 100% of farm tobacco is packaged by automatic bailing machines in preparation for sale. Many farms use mechanized “topping” devices and precision sucker control products that have helped to reduce that labor demand by 50% as well. All of this mechanization is important in reducing the workers exposure to raw leaf tobacco.

Further, the advent of larger curing box systems and the attention to reduce leaf damage from excessive moisture in the curing process has resulted in many operators not starting field harvest when tobacco leaves are wet. This practice has also helped reduce any potential risks to “green tobacco sickness” that can result from handling wet leaves.

We see two important points coming from the HRW report. First, it is additional evidence that guest worker polices in this country need to be further addressed and improved in the ongoing immigration debate. Second, as an industry we will continue to prioritize the need to completely remove hand labor as a requirement in this crop so that its cultural practice can be similar to that of basic row crops such as corn, soybean and cotton. It remains the goal of TGANC to lead the technology discoveries that may someday result in tobacco that is not touched by human hands.

For additional Information: Graham Boyd, Executive Vice President, Phone: 919-614-0099. Email:grahamboyd@nc.rr.com.