A Quiet Unease in Southside: The Transformation of Tobacco Farming and Culture in Southern Virginia

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Karen Hebert
Essay Abstract: 
As the Surgeon General warned about smoking in the 1960s, the history of tobacco and its high profit per acre in southern Virginia enabled tobacco farmers to justify continued production. However, changes in policy and production have since shaken regional tobacco pride and caused farmers to become increasingly dependent upon tobacco companies. The deregulation of the tobacco industry, along with increased public criticism and a fall in profit margins, have thrown tobacco’s future in Virginia into question by challenging the state’s entrenched
tobacco culture. The quiet unease among Virginia growers as production becomes more difficult to justify and continue may unravel the remaining threads of the regional cultivation.