Sep. 24 2002
Washington, DC — We support legislation introduced today by Senators Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Max Cleland (D-GA) that addresses all of the important principles of the Report of the President's Commission on Improving Economic Opportunity in Communities Dependent on Tobacco Production While Protecting the Public Health.
Senators Hollings and Cleland are providing the type of leadership needed to secure a long-term solution that addresses the challenges facing tobacco farmers. Congress now has two bills, the Hollings-Cleland bill and the previously introduced Cleland bill, that bring together the key players, tobacco growers, public health advocates and economic development experts, and provide the best opportunity for actually enacting legislation to assist tobacco farmers.
The Hollings-Cleland bill also expands on the community development aspects of the Commission report. It provides greater educational opportunities for tobacco growers and increased economic development assistance to help diversify employment and strengthen the economic foundation of tobacco-dependent communities.
It is critical that any buyout legislation includes incentives to discontinue production. The Hollings-Cleland bill is a novel and creative approach to compensating farmers and provides an incentive for some farmers to discontinue production. Under the legislation, growers who discontinue production of tobacco would receive their total compensation in one year. The bill also allows these growers to place the compensation into a retirement plan.
We look forward to working with Senator Hollings and Senator Cleland both on this legislation and health legislation to reduce the tremendous toll of tobacco on our nation's health.