Kentucky Farm Bureau Update
The Kentucky Farm Bureau Tobacco and Dark Tobacco Advisory Committees met jointly on July 20 to discuss current issues and review policy relative to tobacco production. Many committee members reported they anticipate Kentucky's tobacco crop experienced 10-30 percent loss due to recent weather conditions.
The Burley Cooperative reported on quota cuts and noted challenges U.S. leaf will face because demand continues to decrease and foreign produced leaf can be acquired by manufacturers at lower costs. The Council for Burley Tobacco reported that check-off dollars are trending down, but that dollars will continue to be available for research grants. The Council noted that last year youth labor was a focus and that for the coming year the focus will be more on crop insurance issues. GAP Board activities were also discussed noting there were two main problems with GAP; how audits are being conducted and that companies are not limiting purchases to GAP certified leaf. USDA Risk Management Agency discussed a number of crop insurance proposals being considered for tobacco for the 2016 crop year and beyond. Final harvest date, certifying adequate barn space, grading guidelines, destruction of crops graded as no value and whether or not contracts should be required to qualify for crop insurance assistance were discussed. It was noted a final harvest date, probably around October 20, is the most likely proposal to be adopted for the 2016 crop year. The KY Tobacco Research & Development Center reviewed research grant budgets noting KTRDC was again working with FDA on a cooperative research agreement.
Committee members also heard from NRCS concerning conservation compliance requirements that are contained in the farm bill that must be met to be eligible for future crop insurance assistance as well as a review of the H-2A program and some of the problems employers faced this growing season. Policy was considered with the committee sending 6 recommendations on Kentucky Farm Bureau policy and 3 recommendations on AFBF policy to the Kentucky Farm Bureau Resolutions Committee for consideration.