Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WILL YOUR BUYOUT PAYMENT BE CUT?

Below: Boxed tobacco is loaded 
in the Burley Stabilization Corporation 
warehouse in Springfield, Tn.


Your last buyout payment--scheduled for 2014--could be reduced by 7.2 percent as the federal government attempts for the first time to make those payments subject to sequestration (the "automatic" reductions in spending authority that were authorized by the Budget Control Act of 2011). "We believe the federal government is incorrect in considering sequestering a portion of the tobacco buyout payments owed to farmers in 2014," said Larry Wooten, president of North Carolina Farm Bureau. "Where the Tobacco Transition Payment Program payments differ from most other federal programs appropriate for sequestration is that these payments are not taxpayer funded. Rather, they are funded through fees that are assessed to tobacco companies." USDA's only role is to distribute the fees collected from tobacco companies to contract holders. I am not big on mail-in campaigns, but with a problem this big, a letter to your political leaders may be the only logical response. The North Carolina Farm Bureau has an email format that shows how. You can find it by going to farm bureau website at http://www.ncfb.org/ and then clicking on "Tobacco Buyout Payment." Note: The 7.2 percent rate is only the most recent that has been suggested. It might be more or less. Photo: Boxed tobacco is loaded in a warehouse of the Burley Stabilization Corporation in Springfield, Tn.

More bad news: The Chinese have found weed seeds in some American tobacco leaf they have bought, and they don't like it. They especially don't like seed from crabgrass, foxtail and Palmer's Amaranth, said Peter Thornton, assistant director for international marketing with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, at the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative meeting in Raleigh, N.C., November 7. "The Chinese do not tolerate invasive weed seeds, and we need to provide a solution to this problem." It will probably have to be an agronomic solution, although Thornton wasn't in a position to predict what it would be. "Stay tuned for the next steps," he said.

A curing problem on burley tips: David Dugan, Ohio Extension tobacco educator, says there has been a problem with cured tips. "Sometimes we will see spots on the leaf that are about the size of a hand," he says. "It looks like a big slug of nitrogen uptake." This has been seen in burley before but under different conditions. "Immature harvest is the usual reason, or a dry season followed by heavy rains. We didn't have either." The good news: "Because it is short, the market wants this crop badly," Dugan says. "So it won't kick out leaf like this." But an explanation is much to be desired for future seasons.

Harvest was done in Ohio around October 15, said Dugan. Very little has been stripped, he says, although he does know of one farmer who has sold his crop for $2.06 a pound. He isn't ready to predict the state yield other than that it will be down from 2012. Pat Raines, a grower from Seaman, Ohio, says he understands that the state's crop is of good, useable quality. Harvesting was finished on his farm by October 8, and stripping began two days later.

Production will be down in the traditional burley-producing area of western N.C., says Stanley Holloway, N.C. burley Extension coordinator. The problem was not just the long rainy period but also the dry period that followed it. "Some of our burley was hurt because of its shallow roots." But relatively few fields were actually drowned out. Western N.C. has had some cold weather this fall but Holloway thinks all the tobacco was harvested by then. Not much has been delivered but that should begin soon. Like Dugan, he is not quite ready to to make a volume prediction either.

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