The Golden LEAF Foundation, a North Carolina non-profit corporation, has awarded a $264,800 grant to North Carolina State University to help research and expand the production of burley tobacco in the state, according to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal.
The article states that: "Though burley is generally known as a mountain tobacco, the N.C. State effort will install curing structures and research plots at research stations near Whiteville, Kinston, Rocky Mount and Reidsville - far to the east of the plant's usual environs. 'It's to determine where burley can be successfully produced,' said Tommy Bunn, the executive vice president of the Leaf Tobacco Exporters Association and a member of Golden LEAF's board." The researchers who wrote the grant application apparently explained that: "If production in 2005 is successful, there is the potential to expand production to 100 million pounds in the next five years, which can produce $150 million in farm income for producers in North Carolina."
The Rest of the Story
This research effort to help expand tobacco production in North Carolina is being funded by revenues from - you guessed it - the multi-state tobacco settlement. The Golden LEAF Foundation was set up to receive and administer about half of the tobacco settlement funds that North Carolina receives from the tobacco companies under the Master Settlement Agreement.
So funds resulting from a lawsuit that was brought on behalf of the state to recover costs related to treatment of tobacco-related diseases are being spent on helping produce more tobacco, which can in turn produce even more tobacco-related disease. What a nice economic cycle: the tobacco industry pays the state to keep off its back, the state gives a portion of the money to support more tobacco production, which benefits the tobacco farmers and the tobacco industry, and best of all, helps bring even more tobacco settlement revenue to support the whole cycle.
As I said in an earlier post, the Master Settlement Agreement has been an unmitigated public health disaster.