Tobacco auctions fading away? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tobacco auctions fading away?

August 5, 2002

Sounds of tobacco auctions echo in Colquitt County this morning. But, are those sounds going to be a noise of the past?

Tobacco farmers have two choices, either auction their crop to several buyers at a time or sign a contract with one tobacco company. Farmers say a contract guarantees a sale if you have quality tobacco, but auctions display their crop to more people.

Auctions used to be more common in South Georgia, but lately they seem to be fading out. What do tobacco farmers think of the changes?

It's a sound that brings back childhood memories for many South Georgians. Tobacco Farmer, Cleve Kilgore, explains, "It will be something you miss. Something you grew up with. We came up here when we was little with daddy and been around it all our lives."

Kilgore and his brother David are tobacco farmers in Colquitt County. Like many, they're the last generation farmers in their family. Kilgore says, "We didn't contract this year, like last year. I wanted to go back to the auction system."

The Colquitt County tobacco warehouse has the only privately owned auction in the state. Tobacco farmers are happy to have something close to home, but are also not surprised. Tobacco Farmer, James Norman, says, "It's a thing of the past." Norman started in the tobacco business sixty years ago and he's seen a lot of changes. He doesn't like being under contract. Norman explains, "You're gonna dance to their fiddling music, cause their gonna dictate the price."

The sounds of Tobacco auctions are slowly fading away and who knows, the next generation may never get a chance to hear auctioneers. But, farmers who are here today say they're lucky to get one so close to home.

Right now, Georgia has two other tobacco auctions, in Statesboro and Douglas. Unlike the auction in Colquitt County, they're both government owned.

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