Last year in Washington, Congress passed the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004. The act's intended purpose was to ensure that tobacco companies made Phase II payments for 2004 to tobacco growers and quota owners. But a recent court decision ruled that the tobacco companies are not required to make the Phase II funding available for 2004 as intended by Congress. Due to this unfortunate ruling from an unelected judge in North Carolina, some 160,000 tobacco growers and quota owners, deserving and expectant of the promised monies, stand to lose the $124 million promised to them. This is a travesty for our already fragile farm economy in Kentucky, and I am leading the charge, along with other concerned members in the state legislature, to make sure our farmers get what they deserve.
Our farmers have already lost their quota and their price supports. To "slip-shuck" the farmers now by failing to come through on the promised Phase II monies is unfair and unallowable. They were promised their 2004 Phase II funding, but big tobacco has stood in the way. The same giant tobacco conglomerates who lobbied us in Frankfort last year to add $4.50 to every carton of cigarettes have done all they can to shut down the small tobacco companies. Only a few elitists who would not even know how to cut a stalk of a tobacco plant have been helped, not the little man. The farmer and quota holder has been turned out to "root hog or die."