Altria is committed to responsibly sourcing tobacco and assuring our business partners comply with the law and model our values. We take a leadership role in the industry with a proven track record of building sustainable tobacco supply chains with a focus on crop, environment and labor management.
The Altria Client Services Leaf Procurement team drives continuous improvement in our tobacco supply chains to protect the rights of farm workers, build sustainable futures for farmers and their communities and protect the environment.

These efforts support business continuity for our operating companies and address societal expectations to drive responsibility through our value chain, support our people and communities and protect the environment.

Through internal and external programs and partners, the Leaf Procurement team sets expectations, trains and educates, and monitors compliance and remediates issues.

2025 GOALS

 

  • Deliver continuous improvement in our tobacco supply chains to protect the rights of farm workers, build sustainable futures for farmers and their communities and protect the environment. 
  • Enhance infrastructure that supports our ability to responsibly source goods and services and optimize the value of those goods and services for our businesses.

 

Partnering for Excellence

We proactively engage with several key agricultural industry partners to collaborate on emerging trends in the tobacco growing community and encourage responsible farming practices, both in the United States and internationally.

One of our longest-running partnerships is with the U.S.-focused organization, GAP Connections (“GAPC”; GAP stands for “Good Agricultural Practices”). GAPC is a nonprofit agricultural organization with over 13,000 grower members across the U.S. focused on raising tobacco industry standards through education, training, monitoring and certification.

Through this partnership, GAPC has successfully offered over 750 grower education trainings, monitored the safety and compliance in over 5,100 visits to grower operations and supported the certification of over a hundred thousand acres of tobacco farmland.

Internationally, Altria serves on the Steering Committee of The Sustainable Tobacco Program (STP), a global coalition coordinated with six manufacturers, over 180 leaf suppliers and more than 2.5 million farmers and farm workers. Through the STP, Altria is working to set clear standards for agricultural practices across the industry and implement monitoring and assessment tools for growers to maintain these practices.

Linwood Sykes

Linwood Sykes

Managing Director, Leaf Procurement & Procurement ESG

“A sustainable tobacco supply chain is a critical component of our responsible value chain. We strive to achieve this by offering a competitive price to our tobacco growers while assisting with the costs of targeted programs such as the H-2A* Temporary agricultural worker program, GAPC certification and one-time market adjustments. These assistance programs further support initiatives that, among other things, help protect the rights of the workers employed by our contracted growers and protect the environment we all share.”

Establishing Best Practices with the Grower Base

To expand our growers’ knowledge of best management practices, we require annual training in the three pillars of crop, environmental, and labor management practices based on the most current information from GAPC, University Extension specialists and the Department of Labor.

Through collaboration and continuous support from our Leaf Procurement team, 100 percent of Altria’s contracted growers received GAP training in 2020.

Sustainable Viticulture & Winemaking

Ste. Michelle remains committed to sharing its best practices in sustainable viticulture and winemaking with partner growers and wine producers. Learn More

Contracted Grower Base Monitoring

In our domestic tobacco supply chains, on-farm monitoring is key to achieving continuous improvement by identifying areas for  greater focus and, if needed, remediation. Monitoring facilitates conversations with our growers around Best Management Practices that positively impact their crop, their farm, the environment and their workers. Contracted growers provide documentation of their crop management records, pesticide records, conservation and labor details. Those with hired labor are assessed against relevant labor management laws or higher standards as contractually required.

Assessments are conducted by a third-party auditor or, in very limited cases, an ALCS employee. Relevant grower records, such as workers’ wages paid, reimbursement of workers’ H-2A travel fees and certifications for workers’ housing* are all reviewed as part of  these monitoring activities. For our contracts with tobacco growers, we meet and often exceed the law for certain provisions because we believe it is the right thing to do. For example, the contracts:

  • establish a minimum employment age of 16, with limited exceptions granted based on local, state and federal laws;
  • require parental/legal guardian consent for those under 18 who want to work on the farm; and
  • require growers to take GAP training on a range of topics including:
    • preventing Green Tobacco Sickness and heat stress;
    • keeping compliant wage records; and
    • preventing human trafficking.

We contract domestic growers through our Tobacco Leaders Program on behalf of PM USA and USSTC, sourcing the three  major types of tobacco – flue cured, dark and burley. Historically, we have assessed at least one-third of that grower base each year, using our internal GAP Assessment Program; but have been encouraging growers to participate in GAPC Certification program since its inception in 2018.

TLP Grower Participation in GAPC Certification Program

2021 Goal: 100% TLP Growers Achieve GAPC Certification

 Year  % of Grower Base Participation  % of Program Participants Achieving Certifications
 2018  25%  98%
 2019  50%  99%
 2020  67%  99%

The program is a three-year, continuous monitoring cycle with all assessments completed by a third-party auditor and governed by the GAPC Compliance Guide. In year one, growers are required to participate in a full, on-farm audit including worker interviews. In year two, growers complete a site visit without worker interviews. In the final year, growers may participate in a desktop review on-farm or online with the expectation that they meet all standards selected for year three.

Monitoring Findings in TLP Grower Base

Alongside other contractual obligations, GAPC Certification is an important component of responsibly managing our value chain. Our aim is to continually enhance a grower’s understanding of their obligations and their compliance with those obligations. We carefully consider the nature of the violation in deciding whether to terminate the contract or to work with the grower to address and remediate all issues. In 2020, 13 growers were denied certification for a variety of reasons including failure to provide necessary documentation, meet standards for worker treatment, and labor and wage requirements. Learn More


Daniel Fox Photo

Protecting Natural Habitats through Responsible Agricultural Practices

To protect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, PA law requires growers to have a written conservation plan documenting the Best Management Practices growers implement.
Jessica Allen

Investing in Higher Education and Agricultural Studies

Altria is involved in programs like these university scholarships because it shows that the company cares about the future of tobacco growers and their families.