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Virginia’s 2019 Tobacco Crop Down 29% From Last Year

1953 Tobacco Festival.
1953 Tobacco Festival. (Photo: Library of Virginia)

Virginia’s largest cash crop for most of its history took another hit in 2019 and tobacco farming in the Commonwealth is just a shadow of its former self.

The USDA says Virginia flue-cured production will drop by 29% from last year to about 30 million pounds, about half of what the colony produced just before the Revolutionary War.  Part of the problem this year is the trade war.

Tony Banks:  We still have tobacco in storage that was contracted in 2018 for export to China

Tony Banks, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Banks:  It’s waiting for the trade dispute to die down.  But China is not the only problem.

 Banks:  Just as important is the continuing decline in American smokers. That number has been dropping since the early 1970s.

Tobacco is now the tenth most important crop in Virginia. But it may have a future beyond smoking.  Growers in other states, particularly North Carolina, are testing it and producing it for the flu vaccine and other pharmaceuticals.