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It’s right to honor their work with a higher minimum wage.



Jan. 12

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky., on farmers deserved full payments from the tobacco buyout:

U.S. Sen Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was a key player in the 2004 historic tobacco buyout that ended the longstanding government price-support system.

The buyout established the U.S. Department of Agriculture TTPP to provide quota holders with a final opportunity to get annual transaction payments from 2005-14 in exchange for the termination of all restrictions, marketing cards and price support loans for tobacco. Under the program, $10 billion was to be paid annually over 10 years to compensate tobacco farmers who lost the quotas under the system. The money was to help farmers transition to other crops.

Last year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that tobacco buyout payments would be subject to a 7.2 percent sequestration this year - the final year of tobacco buyout payments.

This isn’t fair to tobacco farmers in any tobacco growing state.

Thankfully, McConnell intervened and contacted Vilsack and Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell and identified a provision with the Budget Control Act that would allow quota holders to receive full payment.

McConnell’s efforts paid off and the USDA has agreed to provide farmers with the full payment in two installments, half in January and the balance in October.

Farmers will receive the full amount of their final payment by the end of fiscal year 2015.

If Vilsack had his way, it would have cost 100,000 Kentucky farmers and quota holders who chose the yearly installments about $12 million. Banks that bought shares of the annual payouts from farmers who took lump sum payments stood to lose about $5.4 million if the payments were cut.

Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney made a good point when he said: “The full payment of these funds should never have been in question, but full payment with a partial deferral is far better than a 7.2 percent sequestration.”

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