Agriculture Committee Holds Hearing to Review Tobacco Quota Buyout Proposals

Jul 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Agriculture committee today held a hearing to review a potential tobacco quota buyout. The Committee heard from four panels of witnesses consisting of Members of Congress, tobacco producers, tobacco product manufacturers, and health groups.

“Today’s hearing gave the Committee the opportunity to hear from a number of different panels each with a unique perspective on the problems facing the American tobacco industry and the potential effects of a tobacco quota buyout--which has been discussed for several years as a possible step that could be taken to alleviate some of the burdens faced by the domestic tobacco industry,” Chairman Goodlatte said.

“Based on today’s hearing, it is clear that there are many hurdles for those seeking a tobacco quota buyout. There are uncertainties and divergent views that remain…Can all companies afford to pay for a tobacco quota buyout? Do all groups agree on a post-buyout policy? Have we resolved all differences of opinion regarding possible FDA regulation of tobacco? Is there a solid consensus among producers, companies and health advocates? These are just some of the remaining hurdles,” Goodlatte continued.

The first panel of witnesses featured Congressmen Ernie Fletcher (R-KY-06) and Jack Kingston (R-GA-01).

The second panel included Mr. Jeff Aiken, Owner and Operator, Aiken Farm, Telford, Tennessee, Mr. John William Carter III, Owner and Operator, Carter Farms, Eagle Springs, North Carolina, Mr. David Chappell, Owner and Operator, Chappell Farms, Owenton, Kentucky, Mr. Donald L. Moore, Owner and Operator, Moore Farms, Chatham, Virginia, Mr. David M. Winkles, Jr., President, South Carolina Farm Bureau, Columbia, South Carolina and Mr. Donald L. “Don” Wright, Owner and Operator, Wright Farm, Glade Spring, Virginia.

The third panel featured Ms. Brennan M. Dawson, Vice President for External Affairs, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, Louisville, Kentucky, Mr. Everett W. Gee III, General Counsel, S & M Brands, Inc., Keysville, Virginia, Mr. Tommy J. Payne, Executive Vice President, External Relations, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc., Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Mr. Norman F. Sharp, President, Cigar Association of America, Inc., Washington, D.C., Mr. Michael E. Szymanczyk, Chairman and CEO, Philip Morris USA, New York, New York, Mr. Ashley L. Taylor, Jr., Legal Counsel, Council of Independent Tobacco Manufacturers of America (CITMA), Richmond, Virginia and Mr. Steve Watson, Vice President of External Affairs, Lorillard Tobacco Company, Greensboro, North Carolina.

And the final panel included Mr. Matthew L. Myers, President, National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, Dr. Alfred Munzer, Past President, American Lung Association, Dr. John R. Seffrin, CEO, American Cancer Society and Mr. M. Cass Wheeler, CEO, American Heart Association.

“While progress has been made in this debate, there is still much work to be done and many questions that remain unresolved. This hearing was beneficial in that it gave the Committee a clear and fair assessment of where things stand in this very difficult ongoing discussion,” Goodlatte concluded.