Canada Seeks Ban on Virginia Burley Tobacco

June 16, 2009

Bill pending in Canadian Parliament would curtail burley exports

RICHMOND, Va., June 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A discriminatory bill currently pending in the Canadian Parliament would endanger agricultural jobs and could signal a worldwide movement against Virginia burley. If passed, the bill would essentially ban all burley exports from the U.S. to Canada, resulting in far-reaching, negative implications for the burley growing industry.

The Virginia tobacco industry generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Virginia tobacco farms are typically small family farms with few alternative crops capable of generating the per acre returns necessary to support their operations.

“More than 900 Virginia farmers depend on the production of tobacco to support their farming operations and rural communities,” said Wayne Pryor, President of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Farm sales of tobacco in Virginia will exceed $70 million in farm value this year, and this bill would have a devastating impact on Virginia agriculture.”

The original intent of the bill (Canada Bill C-32) was to ban only candy-flavored little cigars. But it has been written so broadly that it will apply to all cigarettes and will ban all flavorings used with Virginia-grown burley, effectively prohibiting the manufacture and sale of American blend cigarettes – with Virginia-grown burley tobacco – in Canada. American blend cigarettes contain burley tobacco and use certain ingredients to aid in the manufacturing process and to provide the products with their distinct taste. Unlike the products that are supposed to be targeted by the bill, these American blend cigarettes do not have a fruity or sweet odor or flavor.

According to agricultural leaders, banning the flavorings effectively bans the sale of the American blend cigarettes. “This isn’t about tobacco control, this is about arbitrary discrimination against one type of tobacco versus another,” said Pryor. “There are certainly ways for the Canadian government to achieve their goal of banning fruit-flavored products aimed at kids without wiping out the market for American burley tobacco and threatening American jobs.”

“No less than the future of the burley tobacco growing industry is at stake. If other countries follow Canada’s lead, the market for American- style tobacco products will be nonexistent outside the U.S.,” said Pryor.

Dean Wallace, the Executive Director of the Council for Burley Tobacco, recently wrote to Canada’s Minister of International Trade to express opposition to this bill.

“C-32 would ban the vast majority of U.S. cigarette exports to Canada and prohibit Canadian companies from manufacturing American blend cigarettes. Additionally, it would deny tobacco farmers an opportunity to sell burley to any company for use in Canadian products,” Wallace said in his June 4 letter.

“The bottom line is this legislation has been written too broadly and is threatening to impose far-reaching, negative implications on Virginia burley growers. We are asking our elected officials in Washington D.C. to take notice of this pending action in Canada and do everything in their power to stop it,” said Pryor.

To schedule an interview with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation on this topic, please call Rhonda Bentz at 202-315-5100 or e-mail Rhonda.Bentz@ navigatorsglobal.com.

SOURCE Virginia Farm Bureau Federation

Source: newswire

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