North Carolina tobacco growers voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 18 to continue a self-assessment that raises funds to support tobacco-related research and Extension efforts of North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Under the Tobacco Research Check-Off, started 30 years ago, producers decide whether to assess 10 cents per 100 pounds of flue-cured and burley tobacco sold. This year’s referendum – which passed by 94% – continues the assessment through the 2027 crop year.
The N.C. Tobacco Research Commission allocates about $300,000 annually for tobacco-related projects. The commission includes the state Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services; the presidents of the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation, the N.C. State Grange and the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina; and the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, Inc. chairman.
Sonia Murphy, president of the foundation and state check-off coordinator, said the referendum’s passage is important for future tobacco production in North Carolina, especially in light of the fact that federal funding for tobacco research ceased in 1994 and state support has declined in recent years due to state budget cuts.
Tobacco continues to be one of the highest-value row crops produced in the state, with farm-gate sales in 2020 of more than $362 million. According to CALS Dean, Dr. Richard Linton, funds from the check-off will address such important areas as variety development, insect and disease management, and reduction of pesticide residues, production costs, on-farm energy consumption and weed-seed contamination in tobacco exports.