Proposal Could Cripple Kentucky Agriculture

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer worries that proposed international rule regulating the sale and production of tobacco could cripple Kentucky farmers and hurt the Kentucky economy. World Health Organizations recently proposed a ban on ingredients other than tobacco in cigarettes.

Burley-tobacco, a significant part of Kentucky’s agricultural production, is made harsh tasting during its curing process. As a result, burley-tobacco cigarettes frequently contain flavored additives to give it a more palatable taste. The WHO’s proposed ban would limit the market for burley-tobacco and could potentially damage the Kentucky economy.

“We’ve made great strides to diversify Kentucky agriculture in recent years. Yet still today, thousands of Kentucky farmers rely upon burley to provide the income that feeds their children and pays their bills,” Farmer said. “If the current proposal is adopted as is, many Kentuckians could lose their farms, and many more could lose their jobs.”

Farmer believes that additive bans would not limit the cigarette market, but would simply force consumers to switch to different brand and would hurt Kentucky farmers. “I do not believe that damaging Kentucky’s economy in exchange for a negligible health benefit makes sense,” he said.

The 2009 burley crop in Kentucky was valued at more than $274 million and recent census information indicated that 8,113 Kentucky farms grew burley tobacco in 2007.
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