Tobacco Leaders Program
Through the Tobacco Leaders Program, PM USA and USSTC support growers innovating to lower production costs and promote sustainable agriculture. The companies also support pilot programs and research in tobacco-growing regions such as:
- Farming mechanization/production innovation – developing equipment to reduce growers' production costs and their need for hand labor;
- Tobacco curing efficiency – developing new curing methods that reduce the growers' cost of production and reduce negative environmental impact;
- Seed variety research – developing new tobacco seed varieties to promote sustainable agriculture;
- Contracting models – developing new tobacco-buying contracts that address grower sustainability issues such as term of contract, volume and on-farm infrastructure;
- Universities & agricultural extension programs – educating tobacco growers about safety and crop management; and
- Educational scholarships – supporting tobacco grower families as an investment in the future of tobacco production.
Tobacco Good Agricultural Practices
Our GAP program promotes sustainable agricultural practices through:
- Engagement & Communication – We talk regularly with growers, and company grower representatives make on-farm visits. We also include GAP topics in grower meetings and newsletters;
- Tools – Each grower receives a U.S. Tobacco GAP handbook featuring our GAP guidelines;
- Expanded Resources – Through collaboration with GAP Connections, growers can access a variety of GAP topics, like preventing Green Tobacco Sickness, website resources, an expanded computer-based record keeping tool, education programs and university-based grower trainings. GAP Connections also provides governance and oversight related to the U.S. Tobacco GAP handbook; and
- University Support – We invest in sustainable tobacco production research through land-grant universities. We also contribute funding to develop state tobacco production guides.
In addition to sourcing most of our tobacco from U.S. farmers, we also buy tobacco from suppliers who purchase tobacco in more than 10 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Macedonia, Turkey and Malawi. We require international and domestic suppliers to design GAP programs with their contracted growers. We then assess those suppliers to make sure GAP programs are in place and communicated to their contracted growers.