Sep 16, 2014 4:33 AM
US tobacco growers brace for tougher competition
The Associated Press
DANVILLE, Va. (AP) Starting next month, America's remaining tobacco growers will be totally exposed to the laws of supply and demand.
The very last buyout checks go out in October to about 425,000 tobacco farmers and landowners. They're the last holdovers from a price-support and quota system that had guaranteed minimum prices for most of the 20th century, sustaining a way of life that began 400 years ago in Virginia.
Cigarette makers will have paid $10 billion to compensate growers for surrendering their quotas. Growers got another $5 billion from the companies as part of their 1998 settlement of state lawsuits over smoking-related health care costs.
When the last checks are cashed, surviving growers will be on their own, forced to find profits in a tremendously competitive global market.