Philip Morris U.S.A. (PM USA) has announced that partnering agreements are available as of March 1 to burley tobacco farmers who wish to submit offers to participate in the company's Tobacco Farmer Partnering Program for the upcoming growing season.

Philip Morris U.S.A. conducted a pilot program among burley tobacco growers for the 2000-01 growing season. The company recently announced that it would expand its Tobacco Farmer Partnering Program for the 2001-2002 season to include more burley tobacco growers, and that it also would extend the program to flue-cured tobacco growers.

“As the country's largest tobacco buyer, we are concerned both about the welfare of American farmers, as well as the availability of high quality American-grown tobacco,” explained Michael A. Farriss, vice president of Leaf for PM USA. “Because our Burley Pilot Program was so well received by growers, we are expanding the scope for burley growers for the upcoming season, as well as extending it to flue-cured growers. We believe that our Tobacco Farmer Partnering Program will help provide participating growers with a reliable and steady source of income.”

The company has selected eight businesses to serve as agents/receiving station operators for burley growers. As agents, these businesses will solicit offers from growers for partnering agreements; as receiving station operators, they will provide a facility for participating growers to deliver their tobacco.

Those businesses include the following:

Bale Tobacco Marketing
Tommy Bale, agent
Glasgow, Ky.
(270) 651-5101
1-800-9BURLEY

Burley Services, Inc.
Lewis Flowers, agent
Lexington, Ky.
(859) 255-4315
1-866-225-4315

Cozart Warehouses, Inc.
Michael Cozart, agent
Gray, Tenn.
(423) 283-9426
1-877-7BURLEY

E.J. Parker, L.L.C.
E.J. Parker, agent
Hartsville, Tenn.
(615) 374-2650
1-800-684-0039

General Tobacco Company, Inc.
J.D. Andrews, Jr., agent
Hopkinsville, Ky.
(270) 887-5574
1-877-887-5574

King-Burley Warehouses, Inc.
Scott Pope, agent
Maysville, Ky.
(606) 759-5361

London Tobacco Warehouses, Inc.
Will Brownlow, agent
London, Ky.
(606) 878-9000
1-800-887-6585

Tobacco Services, Inc.
Warren Hawthorne, agent
Lebanon, Ky.
(270) 692-2244
1-866-428-7539

Burley growers who are interested in applying to participate in the Philip Morris USA Tobacco Farmer Partnering Program should contact the agent of his or her choice.

In addition to buying directly from farmers, PM USA also will purchase a portion of its burley and flue-cured tobacco requirements through the auction system for the 2001-2002 season. Because PM USA is purchasing tobacco under both its partnering program and at auction, the company cannot guarantee it will accept offers for partnering agreements from all interested growers.

The Tobacco Farmer Partnering Program is designed to operate within the framework of the Federal Tobacco Program. PM USA will purchase the entire crop that a participating grower can sell without penalty under the Federal Tobacco Program.

Interested farmers can contact any of the agents listed above, or call PM USA directly at 1-877-PMORRIS (766-7747).