Commission - Joe S. Reams, III , 10/27/00 9:50AM

Dear Members,
We tobacco farmers in Florida want a buyout.  Our communities are NOT "tobacco dependant", but we ARE.  I realize that many communites in NC and KT are so, but we need to remember who's suffering here, and that is the tobacco farmer.  We are resourceful and will find a niche if only given the opportunity, so we can continue supporting our communities.  However, many of us don't have the money in the bank or the collateral to weather this out.  We are scared to death this thing is going to be a huge pumping of money into communities for teen smoking prevention programs with a few million given to the universities to demonstrate growing Belgian Endive.  Let's be totally frank, the tobacco farmers need money.  Yes, direct payments.  Some people are afraid to say it in fear of sounding greedy, but what value can be placed on a way of life?  I am a 5th generation tobacco farmer, and am facing the future knowing it's all over.  So many in tobacco leadership are saying so much that doesn't make sense.  Who cares if there is a tobacco program if we are compensated 12.00 per pound for our quota.  Who cares if cigarettes go to 12.00 a pack?  Not ONE tobacco farmer I know.  12.00 a pound would allow me to pay off a lot of debt and be able to diversify.  Tobacco has to get cheaper in order to regain world market share.  It's not going to do it under the tobacco program.  Get rid of the program and  give us 12.00 a pound.  Many will quit growing, tobacco will get cheaper and the USA will be out of the tobacco business.  What's the fear of "losing" the program?  That is IF we are reimbursed for it at 12.00 a pound.  I ask you to please read what J. Michael Moore and Bob Givans (tobacco specialist and economist at University of Georgia) wrote about the value of tobacco quota. I am in Madison County Florida and grow 35 acres (was 60) of my own quota.  I am 31 years old, married, and have one daughter and another child on the way.  I purchased this farm in '98 with an FSA Guaranteed Loan.  I was leasing additional quota to help make my payments but, since the cuts, it's no longer available.  I cannot, at this point, cash flow.  There's only one thing that put me where I am, and that's the MSA.  There's only one thing that's going to help me, and that's a buyout of the quota.  It's only right.  I am planning to drive to Raleigh to attend the meeting on the 9th.  Thank you for your attention.
Joe S. Reams, III