Tobacco farmer attitudes towards tobacco manufacturers: Divergence of interests in a rapidly changing market?
Beach, R. H., Jones, A. S., Austin, W. D., & Crankshaw, E. C. (2006, November). Tobacco farmer attitudes towards tobacco manufacturers: Divergence of interests in a rapidly changing market?. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Conference, .
Tobacco farmers have traditionally been an important ally of the tobacco manufacturing industry (TMI), wielding considerable political power in tobacco-producing states. While their interests have not always entirely coincided with the TMI, farmers have typically joined the industry in opposing tobacco control initiatives. This is not overly surprising as farmers share a common economic interest in maintaining demand for tobacco products. However, disclosures of TMI practices in the tobacco documents released under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement; increasing TMI purchases of foreign tobacco; sharp reductions in the tobacco quota followed by elimination of the program in October 2004; conflict over TMI responsibility for Phase II payments; rapid increases in direct contracting; and other major recent changes in tobacco markets have affected farmer attitudes towards the TMI and farmer willingness to support objectives advanced by the TMI. Using survey data gathered from a panel of North Carolina tobacco farmers in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2005 (baseline N=1,236), we examine changing farmer attitudes. Over 80 percent of respondents agreed that the TMI is less effective without farmers. However, the proportion of farmers that agree that tobacco farmers do well when the TMI does well declines over time (from just over 80 percent of respondents in 1997 to 53 percent in 2005). Most farmers are concerned about the TMI's increasing reliance on foreign tobacco and felt that tobacco companies hurt their profits in recent years. Tobacco control policy implications of changing farmer attitudes towards the TMI are explored.