Family farms and restructure of tobacco program- Gayle Arnold, Montgomery County, Ky. farmer, 11/7/00 9:30AM

Wow! An impossible task and to be in 6 months after the first meeting. Our country was founded on tobacco and the moral structure of the family farm.  The tobacco program still financially supports these farms. When considering the restructure of the program, one needs more information about the actual cost of our product and foreign tobacco.  The sale price is the comparison info, but do we need to know what the final cost at the manufactor is?  These could include but not limit to; purchase, shipping, shrinkage, assets, redrying, operating in foreign country, unacceptable use of ban chemicals, value of dependable market, and production rate of cigarettes per pound. How do we restructure a program to be competitive with world market prices without encouraging companies that accept lower quality products, encourage lower income for foreign tobacco producers, accept product raised in countries that does not have same restrictions on chemicals for health and environment, and disconcern for child labor( sweat shops of tobacco). 
Some points to consider when restructuring the tobacco program: when most people were investing in stocks or cd's, the small family farm owner would invest in their business (the farm) for their retirement, one of the reasons, the quota should remain with the land. Intention of purchasing and effective quota and pool supplies should be reformatted. Can companies use tobacco that has been produce by mechanician, such as, the tangle leaf bale? 
On the plan for federal tobacco quota buyout, figuring the tobacco production license on the 2000 effective quota of each farm is pentalizing the farmer that made a good management decision for this year. The higher price per pound of lease and with the lower amount, that he could produce, it could been more cost effective to lease.  Most of us that lease in tobacco knew, in advance, that we would receive a "refund" for part of the cost. The TPL would allow the farm that lease in for one year have the effective quota of 2000 for the year of 2001, then adjusted by the demand after that. The TPL should be on base on a history of leasing for 3 or 5 years.  The idea of leasing as a non-essential cost for land owners would be understandable, but the true tenant farmer( raises tobacco for a percentage on the quota's farm) is a higher cost for the tenant and will be there, even more so, if leasing is eliminated. This factor has not been consider. The 20-20-2000 would help the farmers for retirement, but if a small family farm wanted to diversify, a lump sum of some sort of funds (grants, loans against 20 years, etc.) would be required. The tobacco program has resended 60 years.  How does companies have the right to contract outside of the market? This was the reason the market was established! Small family farms and agriculture contracts have a history of not working across the U.S.  The concept that the companies can demand better stalk positions of leaf grade, this could be neturalized by large producers, by sub-contracting the crops stripped, by the pound, without producer supervision. Small farm diversification is attainable by the work ethics of farmers, but they need funds, marketing and on-site technical advice. Niche production would be feasible with valve-added marketing infrastructure, example, North Carolina, were available for specific areas.  The land grant universities and extension services could be financially supported to provide on-site know how. Health, with the propose buyout, tobacco growers co-op would negotiate with buyers.  Does this include our checks on the tobacco for illegal use of chemicals?  As tobacco farmers, the U.S. produces the safest product.