Tar Heel tobacco growers vote to continue funding research on crop

North Carolina tobacco growers have agreed to continue funding tobacco-agricultural research for another six years.

More than 92 percent of tobacco growers in the state who voted favored the North Carolina Tobacco Research Check-off Referendum, which calls for growers to allocate 10 cents per 100 pounds of flue-cured and burley tobacco to tobacco research and education. The referendum is voted on every six years and must be approved by two-thirds of voters to pass.

The funds are collected at buying stations by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and then allocated to North Carolina State University by the North Carolina Tobacco Research Commission. Since 1991, the program has raised nearly $300,000 a year to support projects at NCSU.

“The tobacco check-off funds have resulted in many important developments for the state’s burley and flue-cured tobacco farmers, including variety development, improved nitrogen management, advanced curing technologies and breakthroughs in pest and disease management,” said Johnny Wynne, dean of NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Tobacco growers have been forced to fund nearly all research into improved tobacco agriculture practices. The federal government ceased tobacco research funding in 1994, and state support has declined due to budget deficits.

“This referendum is critical for North Carolina tobacco growers to remain competitive in the world market,” said Keith Oakley, president of the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation. “By voting to continue this self-help program, the state’s tobacco growers are making an important investment in the future of cheap tobacco production, research and education in North Carolina.”

source: http://triangle.bizjournals.com

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