West is optimistic a plan will be approved. Currently there are at least two proposals, one being pushed by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The Senate plan is based on farmers' 2002 quota, which is the amount of leaf the federal government allows farmers to grow. A plan introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.) would pay growers and quota holders based on their 1998 quotas. Both would pay $8 per pound to quota holders and $4 to growers. "Fletcher's plan is the best," said West.
Farmers should receive $12 a pound "if they would do us right," said Foley. "But they ain't gonna do us right. I'd say $8 to $10 would be fair." Foley said if he grew 20,000 pounds and received $10 a pound, he could receive $200,000. But he said he's heard that payments would be given over a 10- to 12-year span.
It's not known exactly how much each farmer will receive all together, because West said a wide variety of schemes exist pertaining to how much tobacco each person grows. But he figures the average farmer could receive about $10,000 a year. "It's not a large amount of money," he said. "But it will help them transition to other things, whether they want to build a barn or buy some machinery."
Foley said he might look to expand his livestock. "Probably cattle. It will be everybody's number one (thing) to go to, I imagine. They can make tobacco patches into alfalfa fields."
West said it will be tough for both measures to get through their respective chambers. "Hopefully there will be a compromise." Not everyone is so optimistic.
Donald Lear doesn't think a buyout plan will pass, and says he believes it's all based on politics. "After the governor's race, you won't hear anything more about it."
But Bob Ballard believes in the plan.
"I think it's great because some of us old ones are going to quit anyway and let the young ones have it all."
Despite the plan being a "buy out," it doesn't mean that all farmers will paided off to give up their right to grow tobacco. "All the bills are designed to move the tobacco production to the people who actually grow it," said West. "Those who are leasing out will receive their compensation and be through."