Monday, December 22, 2014

A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO THE CHILD LABOR CONTROVERSY


This picture purportedly shows a 16-year-old hired worker harvesting burley in Kentucky. It was part of a media blitz in the spring by outside organizations who wish to persuade the public that abuse of 
young workers is rampant on tobacco farms.
Labor management on tobacco farms has become quite a contentious issue for the general public. Tim Yarbrough, president of the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C., at the recent N.C. Tobacco Day recommended some simple first steps, and they will yield benefits whatever the age of your workers. "We are calling on farmers to simply do the right thing. No farmer should willfully and knowingly expose any person, regardless of age, to overspray from pesticides. No farmer should deny an employee appropriate breaks and sufficient needs such as water and protective clothing. Laws or regulatory changes that will not be enforced are unnecessary in managing this child labor concern."

A landmark in American flue-cured export took place in 2013. For the first time, exports of U.S. flue-cured to China exceeded exports to the traditional leading customer, the European Union. "That was in part because exports to the EU-27 continued their downward trend, falling from 77.5 million pounds for the 2012 crop to 63.8 million pounds for the 2013 crop," said Blake Brown, N.C. Extension economist, at the N.C. Tobacco Day. Exports to China, on the other hand, continued their upward trend, increasing from 59.8 million pounds for 2012 to 73.9 million pounds for 2013. Demand from China continues to be strong, but U.S. supply has been hampered by adverse weather that has affected both quantity and quality of recent crops, Brown said. "A strengthening U.S. dollar may also impede export growth [to any destination] in the near term."


Distributor for DeCloet: Cureco company of Seven Springs, N.C., has agreed to serve as distributor for DeCloet SRL Italy. It will sell the well known DeCloet barn, which had been hard to obtain in recent years. "This brand of barn has been proven to be effective and has good longevity," says Mack Grady, president of Cureco. "It has kept abreast of the available technology." For more information, call Grady at 252-559-2630; Matthew Grady at 252-916-2952 or the Cureco office at 252-569-1714. Or email at uts4tobacco@aol.com. 


Lower-priced foreign burley is undoubtedly being bought on the market as a substitute for higher quality-premium priced burleys like ours. But Will Snell, Kentucky Extension tobacco economist, says it could have been worse. "Most of the growth [in burley production] over the past two years has occurred in Africa, which is viewed [by buyers] as a low quality, filler tobacco and thus doesn't compete directly with U.S. or South American quality, full flavor burley."

Tobacco farms keep disappearing: Slightly more than 10,000 farms grew tobacco in the U.S. in 2012, a 72 percent reduction compared to just before the buyout, according to the recent U.S. Census of Agriculture. Among its other findings, based on data collected through 2012:
  • The number of farms growing tobacco in the U.S. dropped by nearly three quarters from 2002 to 2012.
  • All but one state experienced a significant decline in tobacco farm numbers. That state was Pennsylvania, which experienced a 28 percent increase in the number of farms growing tobacco between 2002 and 2012.
  • The number of tobacco farms in North Carolina, the largest flue-cured producing state, has declined by about two thirds since 2002.
  • Flue-cured farms have become larger and more geographically concentrated with North Carolina producing a larger quantity and share of U.S. flue-cured tobacco.
  • More consolidation is expected due to anticipated declining demand, technological change, regulatory action, labor challenges and deteriorating infrastructure.
Who has the most tobacco farms? The state with the largest number of farms growing tobacco is Kentucky, as it was before the buyout. It has nearly half of all U.S. tobacco farms. The top seven states in number of tobacco farms in 2012 (in descending order) were: Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio and Georgia--the same top seven as in 2002. Pennsylvania has risen from seventh to third, thanks to the boom in burley production there.

The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program is being conducted once again in 2015 by GAP Connections through a series of grower meetings in the tobacco states. Tobacco Farmer Newsletter will publicize as many of the meeting dates as possible (see below). 

Who's in charge? GAP Connections is lead by a board made up of representatives of 15 buying companies and two associated groups. For 2015, the latter two are Tim Yarbrough, Prospect Hill, N.C., a flue-cured grower, and Al Pedigo, Scottsville, Ky., a burley grower. Buying company representatives are Robbie Parker, R. J. Reynolds; Jeff Griffin, AOI; Pat Raines, Burley Tobacco Growers Coop; Frank Geovannello, Altria; Bill Maksymowicz, Burley Stabilization; Chuck Neely, Gallatin Redrying & Storage; Zhanhua Liang, China Tobacco International; Linda McMurtry, Hail & Cotton; Ward Anderson, JTI; David Conner, Philip Morris International; Andy Henderson, Swisher International; Xinglin Ou, TH International Tobacco Company; Dennis Springs, United Tobacco Company; Matthew Drake, Universal Leaf, and Wayne Crawford, U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc.

GAP Connections leaders for 2015 are Parker of R.J. Reynolds, who will serve as chairman of the board; Jane Starnes, president, and Paul Denton, retired Tennessee Extension specialist, secretary/ treasurer. Its website can be found at www.gapconnections.com. The telephone number is 865-622-4606.

UPCOMING GAP RECERTIFICATION MEETINGS

KENTUCKY
  • January 17, 8:30 a.m. Owensboro Convention Center, 501 W Second St., Owensboro, Ky. Contact Bob Pearce at 859 257 511 or rpearce@ email.uky.edu. This meeting is being held in conjunction with the 2015 Tobacco Expo.
NORTH CAROLINA (Flue-cured)anuary 6, 9:30 a.m. 
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Tytun rated 1


FARMERS TOBACCO WAREHOUSE
 209 Harding St., Danville, Ky.
PH: 859-236-4932

Full-service burley warehouse

Jerry Rankin, Owner


 Opening Tuesday, November 25 at 9:30 a.m. Call for information.

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