Georgia senators back legislation to end tobacco program
July 31, 2003
(Washington-AP) -- Georgia's U.S. senators have joined in supporting a bill to pay tobacco farmers to leave a subdidy program that once guaranteed the industry economic security.
Farmers would not get the government-guaranteed high prices to grow tobacco under the bill introduced in the Senate today, although they could still grow it.
Farmers have been seeking a buyout. Many say they want to get out of the business altogether, because they have experienced steep cuts in the amount of tobacco they can grow under the federal program in recent years. The cuts are due to declining cigarette sales and an increased reliance by cigarette manufacturers on cheaper foreign tobacco.
Ending the program would make U.S. tobacco prices more competitive with global markets. The program was conceived in the Depression, when regulation helped guarantee income for farmers.
The proposal would pay farmers $13 billion over six years. Senator Saxby Chambliss says lawmakers have worked very hard this year to craft a tobacco buyout that's in the best interest of the farmer and the manufacturer. Zell Miller also has signed on as a supporter.