In Kentucky, tobacco’s roots run deep. Agriculture is the backbone of rural Kentucky industry; it keeps food on the table for millions of Kentucky families. The crop brought four million dollars into the state in 2017, making Kentucky the number one grower of burley tobacco in the nation.
Thousands of people work through the season, and the off season too, to keep the wheels turning on Kentucky tobacco. Farmers, buyers, seed manufactures, distributors, workers, and many others spend the winter months hard at work getting tobacco to the market. After the tobacco is grown and harvested, it must be air cured or fire cured in massive barns for a number of months.
The men and women who work in the tobacco industry tend to be seasoned, coming from long lines of tobacco farmers. They can remember the good years and the bad years, even decades in the past. "We had hail in the late 90's" said Billy Joe Kingston. "No one got out easy those times.” Kingston, 84, has grown tobacco for his entire life, it’s all he knows.