Thursday, July 20, 2000
Ky. to test curing process
State's burley farmers enlisted to help develop safer cigarette
The Associated Press
CYNTHIANA, Ky. A Chester, Va.-based tobacco company has enlisted the help of 100 Kentucky burley farmers to test a curing process it says reduces the cancer-causing agents in cigarettes.
Officials from Star Scientific Inc. visited Brian Furnish's farm in Northern Kentucky on Tuesday to unveil their plan to create a safer cigarette.
Really, it's a win-win for everybody, said Jim Jennings, vice president of grower relations for Star, which manufactures cigarette brands G-Smoke, Main Street, Vegas and Sport.
Mr. Jennings said the process reduces the amount of nitrosamines cancer-causing carcinogens in today's burley tobacco.
The theory behind the process is that nitrosamines develop in the early days after tobacco is cut. In a series of experiments at the University of Kentucky, agronomy associate professor Harold Burton discovered that the cancer-causing chemicals develop under wet conditions.
In tests in Mexico that Mr. Burton supervised earlier this year, the company discovered that climate-controlled barns nearly eliminated the nitrosamines, he said.
The Kentucky farmers will participate in a pilot program to test the process, the first time it has ever been widely used for burley. In return, the company promises more pay to farmers that sell the specially cured tobacco to the company.
The company wants to market a safer cigarette by year's end, Mr. Jennings said.
Star is coordinating the program through the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. In return for the co-op's promotion, Star has promised to buy all tobacco through the traditional auction system.
Mr. Furnish, the co-op's program coordinator, said he hopes the program will preserve the dying auction system, including price support and a grading system for tobacco.
I know that we're going to lose some good farmers, but I hope this will help the ones that want to stay in business, stay in business, said Mr. Furnish.
Before participating in the program, farmers must sign a barn certification agreement with Star. In return, the co-op delivers the green aluminum barn, largely assembled, to the farmer's door. The farmer must provide a concrete base and gas and water hookups.
Once the barn is in place, farmers have to stick to a new regimen. Instead of cutting the full plant at harvest time, farmers start immediately, plucking five yellow leaves off the bottom of each plant.
In a week, they must pull more. The plucked tobacco is packed into metal crates on wheels that slide into the barn. A gas heater and a fan regulate the temperature in the barn, keeping moisture out and curing the tobacco in one week. The cured tobacco can be removed and stored while new tobacco is brought in. Each barn can hold 10,000 pounds of burley.
Farmers are curious about the process, but are more concerned with the financial impact.
I'll try it, but it's got to pay out, said Owen County farmer Johnny Smith, 50.
Last week's landmark $145 billion verdict against the tobacco industry in Florida was only the latest bad news for Kentucky tobacco farmers. The tobacco quota has been cut 70 percent in recent years, and last year's statewide drought forced farmers to spend heavily on watering their plants or harvest a smaller crop.
Star officials said they want to help. They said farmers agreeing to participate in their new program will get a premium 25 cents to 30 cents more than the common selling price per pound if they sell their tobacco to the company.
Gas reversal: Midwest now has country's lowest prices
Officer Hill fired after disciplinary hearing
PULFER: It's open season on gun laws
Ruling 'benefit' to citizens
West End: Issue is city
UC, Children's to get access to genetic code
Burglaries can't silence churches
Green Party may get Nader on Ohio's ballot
More bad weather, same problems
Parrot's luck brings him home
3 school districts beseech voters
Father charged with murder
Lakota East wins praise for Web design
Revision to benefit hospital
SAMPLES: Sweet taste of the past up for sale
Turning against technology
Art exhibit reveals life in Victorian age
Attraction of 'Mecca' missing from local group's production
Get to it
Pig Parade: TutankHAMun
Who should be cast away?
KNIPPENBERG: Jumping Classic exec will have to skip it
3 face Clermont robbery charges
Bunning bill aims to stem identity theft
Butler Sports Hall of Fame finds a place to honor heroes
Deerfield may expand coverage from sheriff
3free concerts tonight in Butler County parks
Hamilton buildings restored
Kentucky News Briefs
Kings students out hour early
Ky. to test curing process
Library board zeroes in on site
Little Miami names interim school head
Man gets 2 more life sentences
Official: Reinstate election charges
Thermal imager can cast away darkness for cops
Tristate A.M. Report