Increasing numbers of tobacco farmers across the U.S. are turning towards more sustainable forms of agricultural production in the wake of economic hardships and bad publicity. Recent decades have been bad for both cigarette companies and tobacco farmers. The string of bad press in the form of health warnings and highly publicized lawsuits over the dangers of smoking has hit the tobacco industry hard. In the wake of this and the loss of government subsidies for tobacco farms, many tobacco farmers are turning to alternative means of agricultural production to make ends meet.
Groups like the Rural Advancement Foundation International have helped spur the transition away from tobacco production. One of the tools they have offered farmers are start-up grants to help farmers transition to the production of new crops while simultaneously reaffirming a commitment to agriculture. They offer $10,000 individual grants and $30,000 community grants to this end.
In addition, the federal government is encouraging this shift. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Tobacco Transition Payment Program, started in 2004, offers tobacco buyouts to farmers who shift their crop production.
The benefits from shifting away from tobacco production are many. By growing food crops, local farmers can help their communities and contribute to food security programs worldwide. In addition, the production of non-tobacco crops is less demanding on the soil and better for the environment.
Follow us on: Twitter
Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer