Flue-Cured Tobacco Barn Retrofit Grant
Help was needed to assist tobacco producers with the retrofit of their flue-cured bulk barns from direct-fired burners to heat exchangers after research revealed that traditional direct-fired curing methods were increasing nitrosamine levels in the tobacco. Tobacco-specific nitrosamines are potential carcinogens in cigarettes and tobacco companies wanted tobacco lower in nitrosamines. USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation determined that, beginning in 2002, the price support loan differentials for flue-cured tobacco cured in barns with direct heat would be adjusted to a rate half that for tobacco cured in barns with an indirect heat source. Tobacco farmers faced a considerable cut in income. Additionally, the diminished tax value of the non-retrofitted barns would have eroded local tax bases. The Commission recognized that a Qualified Agricultural Program grant allowing the retrofitting of the barns would go a long way to stabilize tobacco-dependent economies and preserve local tax bases.