Weathering the storm - Second Quarter 2009
The new growing season is upon us!
TFQ Editorial Staff
This year had the potential to be the perfect storm for tobacco growers: coming off the most expensive crop ever to produce, the FDA’s renewed attempt to oversee tobacco and now a historical tax increase. Throw in increased smoking bans, a new administration, a fluctuating world market and consecutive bad weather seasons, and there was more than enough to keep tobacco farmers awake at night these last few winter months.
Thankfully spring is upon us, and for most people that’s a great time of year, one where you can already feel the excitement beginning to build. As the yo-yoing temperatures of the season begin to equalize and gradually climb, there is anticipation as you look forward with the hopeful belief that this is going to be a great year.
All indications are that 2009 overall won’t be nearly as bad as some feared for tobacco growers. In the last issue of Tobacco Farm Quarterly, agricultural economist Dr. Blake Brown said he expected input prices to dip slightly from last year, and as you’ll see on the next few pages, on the back of strong leaf exports, U.S. tobacco production may approach 2004 levels with strong gains for growers of all varieties.
Because of tightening profit margins over the last few years, we know that you’ve already been working hard to streamline the process and make your operation as efficient as possible. All that work will continue to pay off this year, and in the coming pages we’ll offer a few more tips on steps you can take immediately to help improve the outlook for this growing season—conserving water and preparing to battle black shank—and some larger projects that you may want to consider further down the road—like upgrading curing barns to solar power.
Certainly there are still many concerns out there as you worry about the affects of the tax hike, contracts, fuel prices, diseases, insects, the weather and about a thousand other things you have no direct control over. But, as they say, all you can do is all you can do. Just do it the best way you know how. Give your best effort and enjoy the moment. Enjoy being outside in the warm weather, enjoy the fresh air and enjoy the comfort that your knowledge and experience is going to carry you through. These are hard times and there is a lot of uncertainty around, but if you’ve prepared properly, examined the risks and put a plan together, then all you can do is get out there and make it happen.
Best of luck this season!