Our Tobacco GAP Program Supplemental Guidelines, communicated to our over 1,800 tobacco growers in 2019 through handouts and one-on-one conversations with Altria Grower Representatives, highlight our expectations for our contracted growers on topics like using registered farm labor contractors and respecting their worker's rights to join or not to join a union. In our tobacco grower contracts, our requirements exceed the law for certain provisions. 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 Good Agricultural Practices training on a range of topics including:
- preventing Green Tobacco Sickness and heat stress;
- keeping compliant wage records; and
- preventing human trafficking.
Philip Morris USA launched a direct-contracting program, now known as the Tobacco Leaders Program.
PM USA formally launched its Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program.
PM USA created a grower scorecard to communicate grower performance on contractual requirements.
PM USA established a company grower representative team to build stronger relationships between the company and contracted growers.
Altria and its companies created and published a Supplier Code of Conduct.
Altria's tobacco companies worked with others to develop the U.S. Tobacco GAP Handbook.
PM USA supported the development of GAP Connections, which provides governance and oversight of the U.S. Tobacco GAP Handbook and related grower education programs.
Altria required GAP training for growers including the prevention of Green Tobacco Sickness and heat stress. Also, Altria supported programs to provide this training to workers.
Altria distributed about 75,000 PPE gowns to all of our tobacco growers who use hired labor, to help prevent GTS. The selected garment had full-length sleeves for coverage and water-resistant material.
Altria gathered feedback from growers regarding the usability, effectiveness and durability of the 2017 PPE gowns. The manufacturer made modifications to the gowns based on this feedback and Altria distributed about 75,000 PPE gowns to all of our tobacco growers who use hired labor.
GAP Connections Board of Directors, of which Altria is a founding member, launched a voluntary Tobacco Grower Certification Program. Participating growers receive training and resources to implement labor management practices that protect the rights of their workers and promote a safe working environment, among other things.
In 2019, 100 percent of contracted growers completed Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training hosted by GAP Connections, a third-party organization focused on developing, maintaining and providing leadership for agriculture standards and practices in domestic tobacco production.
We continued to publish a grower newsletter that is distributed to all domestic contracted growers. The 2019 newsletter highlighted growers with demonstrated sustainability leadership, safety requirements, GAP Training, and critical buying standards. Additionally, we utilized the newsletter to communicate to the grower base our goal of achieving 100 percent of all domestic contracted growers certified by GAP Connections by 2021.