Globally the production of flue-cured tobacco has an impact on the environment. The U.S. flue-cured crop is produced in the most sustainable and socially responsible manner. Tobacco is cured in fuel-efficient barns using propane and natural gas. Less than 1% of the U.S. flue cured crop is cured with wood as a fuel, which means there is no deforestation associated with its harvesting.
Strict enforcement of labor laws at the state and federal levels assist us in our goal of eliminating any unfair labor practices including child labor, forced labor and any form of discrimination.
Tobacco buyers expect high standards, as well as the data to validate them. In 2014, USTC joined GAP Connections, a nonprofit organization that promotes Good Agricultural Practices. In 2015, USTC began using GAP Connections to independently audit 15% of our large commercial growers. In 2016, USTC expanded the program to 100% grower participation, making us the first and only leaf supplier to do so.
USTC is a member of the Sustainable Tobacco Production (STP) program, the globally recognized industry standard developed and funded by manufacturers and suppliers alike. STP provides guidance, support, assessments and validation designed to facilitate continuous improvement. The STP program is used globally by tobacco companies to encourage clear and consistent standards across the industry.
STP ensures and recognizes that industry standards are adhered to throughout the product cycle from seed to final delivery. STP balances tobacco production with positive environmental management, soil and water conservation and appropriate use of agrochemicals. Environmental and health and safety standards are also factors in the program.
USTC growers are required to act in accordance with the STP program. Key focus areas are good agricultural practices, good labor practices and good environmental practices. This includes farmer training and education, integrated pest management, soil and water conservation, farm safety, seed selection and variety performance, and the elimination of non-tobacco related material (NTRM) on the farm. STP also addresses various social and economic factors in the production of tobacco by protecting living standards, fair wages and the elimination of child labor issues.
In addition to our growers, all of USTC’s operations – including our buying centers, storage facilities and processing plant – also fall within the scope of STP. Worker safety, facility security, impact on the community and environmental controls are the key focus points.