Tobacco growers in Kentucky and Tennessee have faced many challenges during the past two years, including weather, labor availability, and rising production costs. However, there have been opportunities as well. Some buying stations have closed or moved, but new buyers have come into the market and contract volumes have been stable overall. Good quality burley tobacco is in relatively short supply, and this has offered opportunities to those who have been able to overcome weather and labor challenges and produce good crops. These changes have had different impacts in different regions of both states, based largely on where buying stations closed and opened. Dark tobacco contract volumes have been more stable than burley, but dark tobacco growers have had challenges as well, including shortages of wood and quality sawdust needed to produce dark-fired tobacco. Labor costs have continued to rise as tobacco growers struggled to keep pace with changes in the H-2A labor program that allows them to legally employ migrant workers. Uncertainty about future regulatory action still hangs over the entire tobacco industry but does not seem as foreboding as two years ago. Overall, tobacco remains an important commodity in the agricultural economy of the region as growers prepare for future seasons.

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Click here for the updated version of this publication, titled 2015-2016 Burley and Dark Tobacco Production Guide (ID-160).