Times may be tight for a tobacco industry undergoing political and marketing difficulties, but the industry continues to believe in - and invest in - the future of the golden weed.
The five-member Tobacco Research Commission, comprised of representatives from four top North Carolina agricultural industry groups, along with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services (NCDA), recently announced the award of grants of over half a million dollars to N.C. State University. The money will be used to fund 31 research projects slated for 2004.
The grants include $68,794 for a research project to predict outbreaks of tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). Another grant, this one for $2,050, will fund a study of procedures to speed up development of new hybrid varieties of tobacco.
Funding for the grants comes from a 10-cent assessment on every 100 pounds of flue-cured and burley tobacco sold in North Carolina. This year, the Tobacco Research Commission also received $175,000 from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to support TSWV research. Six of the 31 research projects focus on TSWV.
The five members of the N.C. Tobacco Research Commission are comprised of representatives from the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation, the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina, the N.C. Tobacco Foundation and the N.C. State Grange. The state agriculture commissioner, currently Britt Cobb, serves as chairman of the group.