The Tobacco Grower Lawsuit: Much to Lose, Nothing to Gain
HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C., Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The small group of U.S. tobacco growers who filed a lawsuit seeking billions in damages from tobacco manufacturers is seriously jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of their fellow farmers. ``If these grow
The original lawsuit was filed with the names of about 4,000 tobacco growers. ``This group represents a limited minority, less than 3%, of the more than 146,000 average annual employment in the tobacco growing sector, and yet the actions of this small group will hurt everyone throughout the tobacco industry,'' Eddington said. ``The potential is there for a minority to ruin the livelihoods of everyone in the industry. Many tobacco farmers have personally declared to me their fervent opposition to this action and are infuriated over the prospect of being lumped in with those who filed,'' added Eddington.
Many would question the wisdom of suing your customers. ``The idea of these tobacco growers suing their customers out of business is absolutely ludicrous. Obviously these are very difficult times, but the way to resolve issues is through cooperation and moving forward with constructive dialogue, not lawsuits. The solution is to work to stabilize the tobacco industry, not bring it down completely,'' said Eddington. ``The interests of tobacco growers are inextricably tied to the interests of the tobacco manufacturers. It is senseless for this small group of growers to not only jeopardize their fellow growers, but threaten to bankrupt the tobacco companies on whom they depend to buy their crops,'' added Eddington.
According to the American Economics Group (AEG), the nation's 146,927 tobacco growers earn just over $1 billion in annual compensation in an average year. ``When you consider that this handful of tobacco growers is suing for about 69 times the annual compensation of the entire nation's tobacco growers, it becomes clear that greed is the primary motivating factor,'' said Eddington.
The AEG economic impact study estimates that in 1997, an average of over 1.5 million people were employed annually by the US tobacco industry. Besides the tobacco growers, others in the core sector of the US tobacco industry who would be negatively impacted by the grower lawsuit include 10,871 in the tobacco auction/warehousing and distribution sector; 42,236 in the manufacturing sector; 99,606 in wholesale trading; and 155,451 in retail trading. The annual compensation earned by the 455,091 people employed in core sector of the US tobacco industry exceeds $10.6 billion in an average year.
The NTC serves as an industry-wide forum for the discussion and consideration of legislative and regulatory issues of common interest and concern to all segments of the tobacco industry. The NTC is comprised of tobacco growers, auction warehousemen, processors or leaf tobacco dealers, tobacco product manufacturers, wholesale distributors and retailers of tobacco or tobacco products, and others engaged in the business of growing, processing, manufacturing, wholesaling or retailing of tobacco products.