The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that United States cigarette manufacturers plan to purchase 254 million pounds (farm sales weight) of 2004-crop flue-cured tobacco.

Major domestic cigarette manufacturers are required by statute to report annually to USDA their intended purchases of flue-cured tobacco from United States auction markets and producers.

Data on intended purchases, average annual flue-cured exports for the preceding three years and the amount of tobacco needed to attain reserve stock levels are used to determine the annual flue-cured tobacco marketing quota. (The 2004 quota was announced on Dec. 15.)

Annual flue-cured exports for 2001, 2002 and 2003 averaged 228.7 million pounds, down 26 million pounds from the 2000-2002 average. In 2003, manufacturers' intended purchases totaled 283.3 million pounds.