Partner Profile: Tobacco Associates, Inc.
NC State has a long history of working with tobacco producers to conduct research and teaching in the specialized discipline of flue-cured tobacco production. That work directly impacts the yield and economic output for growers. To continue innovation in the field and support new efforts in agribusiness, Tobacco Associates, Inc. (TA) became an early financial supporter of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI). NC State caught up with TA president Hank Mozingo to learn more about the organization and the impetus for their investment N.C. PSI.
Please tell us about Tobacco Associates, Inc.
American tobacco producers organized Tobacco Associates, Inc. (TA) in 1947 as a not-for-profit, export promotion trade association. As a U.S. incorporated organization, TA’s program policies are established and governed by a board of directors elected annually by growers from all five traditional flue-cured producing states. The organization is funded solely by U.S. flue-cured tobacco farmers for the explicit purpose of export promotion/marketing.
TA does not buy or sell tobacco or tobacco products, nor does it accept third-party contributions, allowing TA to remain an objective and unbiased representative of U.S. flue-cured tobacco growers for all global manufacturers interested in U.S. leaf. TA conducts training and education programs on U.S. tobacco grade quality attributes, production, curing, marketing and blending techniques using U.S. tobacco.
Through our efforts, our partners have come to appreciate and depend on the unique quality advantages of U.S. flue-cured to be competitive. They have continued to rely on our organization for impartial, unbiased advice and assistance to complement their purchases.
Why was Tobacco Associates, Inc. interested in funding the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative?
Like other stakeholders, we wanted to be a part of something unique that would help farmers, farm families and farming communities meet the many challenges facing the tobacco industry and agriculture as a whole. The compassion and commitment of those involved, along with the clearly stated vision and benefits of the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative to growers and future growers made our decision to contribute an easy one.
What are you hoping will come out of the partnership?
For decades, U.S. flue-cured tobacco farmers have struggled mightily with adversity, uncertainty, and an ever-changing and shrinking marketplace. As a result, many farmers dependent on tobacco production have had to make significant adjustments to what they grow, while others have stopped farming altogether. For our farmers to maintain their livelihood and continue to be profitable growing tobacco (and other crops), innovative science, research, and technology are needed to make our products more competitive in the global marketplace. Through N.C. PSI’s efforts we hope to realize the sustainable and economically viable tobacco production of U.S. flue-cured for many generations.
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Senior Director of Development, Plant Sciences Initiative