Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tobacco After the Buyout

I've blogged a couple times (here and here) on the results of the buyout of the old tobacco programs. Here's another article, from Haywood County, NC (mountains) where they grew burley. In summary, North Carolina as a state is growing about as much tobacco as ever, the price is more volatile, the crop is riskier, "produce" (tomatoes and peppers) are competitive, the acreage in the mountains is down, the number of farms is down, the eastern part of the state has bigger, consolidated tobacco farms, some growing a new variety of heat-resistant burley. In the mountains, agriculture is down generally.

So, the program seems to have been effective in keeping smaller farmers in tobacco, presumably well past the time when it was the most economically efficient method of production. And it didn't, at least in the short run, mean lower prices for consumers, as the anti-smoking people claimed. (Full disclosure: I smoked over 2 packs day for the first 10 years or so of my bureaucratic career. Fortunately I was able to quit in 1978.)

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