N.C. Tobacco Production Rises As Number Of Farms Decrease

The number of tobacco farmers in North Carolina has declined due to the elimination of federal price supports and a decline in smoking. But some counties have become even bigger producers of tobacco.

Johnston County leads the state in production with 22-point-three million pounds of leaf in 2006. That's a 25 percent increase since the price supports ended in 2004.

The number of tobacco growers has dropped from ten thousand to about five thousand. While many farmers retired from tobacco with their buyout checks, others saw a new freedom to grow leaf where they wanted instead of commuting by tractor to small, scattered plots they rented.

Agriculture experts say the change also means tobacco is grown in the areas where the sandy soil best supports it -- along the Interstate 95 corridor.