Release No. 0364.00

Susan McAvoy (202) 720-4623


WASHINGTON. Oct. 16, 2000--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced the membership of the President's Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production while Protecting Public Health.

"Changes in how the tobacco industry operates, as well as increased public awareness about the risks of smoking, have presented tobacco farmers and their communities with greater challenges," Glickman said. "This commission reflects the Administration's strong commitment to finding long-term solutions to the uncertainties associated with the current tobacco program while continuing to achieve our public health goals."

The commission, established by Executive Order on September 22, will advise the President on changes occurring in the tobacco farming economy. It will recommend ways to improve economic opportunity and development in communities that are dependent on tobacco production, while meeting important public health goals in the United States and abroad, such as protecting children's health.

In September, the President named William Martin "Rod" Kuegel, Jr., the President of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, as a co-chair of the commission along with Matthew Myers, the President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The additional commission members appointed today by Secretary Glickman are: Lynn Carol Birgman, Executive Director, Kentucky Action from Louisville, Ky.; Art Campbell, Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce from Washington, DC and a Tennessee native; James Tull Hill, Jr., Flue-cured tobacco grower from Lenoir, N.C.; John Seffrin, President, American Cancer Society from Atlanta, Ga.; Andrew Q. Shepherd, Flue-cured tobacco grower from Blackstone, Va.; Ronald George Sroufe, Burley tobacco grower from Georgetown, Ohio; M. Cass Wheeler, President, American Heart Association from Dallas, Texas; and, Jesse White, Appalachian Regional Commission from Washington, DC and a North Carolina native.

Doug Richardson has been selected as the Executive Director of the commission. Mr. Richardson was formerly the Deputy Director of USDA's Tobacco and Peanuts Division until his retirement in August 1999.

The commission shall make a preliminary report to the President by December 31, 2000, and a final report to the President six months after the commission's first meeting.

USDA soon will issue a Federal Register Notice announcing two forums sponsored by the commission to seek comments and recommendations regarding its mission. The first forum will be held on Nov. 9, 2000, in Raleigh, N.C. at the Kerr Scott Building - N.C. State Fairgrounds. The second will be held on Nov. 10, 2000, in Louisville, Ky. at the Executive West Hotel, Queen Scott Room, 830 Phillips Lane. Both forums will begin at 9:00 A.M. and end around 3:00 P.M.

The public may submit recomendations to the commission's at their website, website at which will be operational on Oct. 18. All comments received will be available on the website for public review along with the commission's preliminary report.