Working with Farmers to Reduce Environmental Impact
Each year our companies buy millions of pounds of tobacco and grapes from farmers. We encourage consistent high-quality tobacco, innovation, efficiency and open communications with our growers through the Tobacco Leaders Program (TLP), our domestic direct contracting program. As our relationships with farmers grew through the TLP, we heard there were inconsistent Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards. So we worked with farmers to create guidance to promote sustainable agricultural practices. In 2012, PM USA, USSTC and Middleton endorsed the U.S. Tobacco GAP handbook, developed with grower association representatives, other tobacco manufacturers, leaf merchants, land-grant universities and tobacco stakeholders. The handbook promotes agricultural practices that produce quality crops while protecting the environment and supporting farm laborer rights.
Ste. Michelle shares its sustainable viticulture and winemaking best practices with partner growers and wine producers. Ste. Michelle is a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and lends its expertise to the association's VineWise. VineWise gives growers tools to evaluate business practices and implement sustainable management strategies. Ste. Michelle started a collaborative effort to update VineWise to reflect current GAP practices. These contracts, along with annual assessments and routine on-site visits, allow Ste. Michelle to constantly review and improve grower practices.