Georgia tobacco producers are urged to vote in the referendum for the Georgia Tobacco Commission that runs through March 20, the deadline for Georgia tobacco growers to return their ballots.

The referendum gives tobacco producers the opportunity to determine if they want to continue the 51-year-old commission. 



Ballots for the referendum were mailed to eligible growers in February. Eligible tobacco growers who have misplaced the ballot or have not received a ballot may request one by calling the Georgia Department of Agriculture at (404) 656-3678.



Under state law, Georgia tobacco producers must vote every three years to determine if they want to continue the commission. In order for the Tobacco Commission to continue for another three years, 66 2/3 percent of tobacco growers who vote in the referendum must approve the commission.



Current commission members include: Chairman Fred Wetherington of Lowndes County, Vice-Chairman Daniel Johnson of Pierce County, Wayne McKinnon of Coffee County and Ricky Tucker of Berrien County — and ex officio members Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. 



"During these critical times of reduced financial support from tobacco buying companies, agrichemical companies and government entities, it is more important than ever to have grower support for our ongoing tobacco research and education programs," Wetherington said.

"We must ensure that Georgia's tobacco quality and yields stay competitive with other growing regions in order for our production to further increase." 



The commission has funded research that includes the testing of flue-cured seed varieties, sucker control trials, black shank and nematode management, and multiple on-farm tests of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

The commission's main research objective continues to be researching production practices and treatments that will reduce symptoms of tomato spotted wilt virus. 



For more information about commission activities call (229) 386-3468.

For more information from the Gerrgia Farm Bureau, visit http://www.gfb.org/.