Danville Tobacco Auction Makes Comeback

Danville, VA - Farmers from across the region were out in droves Tuesday to sell their tobacco in Danville.

Piedmont Warehouse on Trade Street has been holding weekly tobacco auctions since September, and buyers in the area say this is just what they've been waiting for.

"I really like that way of buying tobacco because it gives you a better choice," said Mac Bailey.

Bailey is the CEO of S&M Brands, the maker of Bailey's cigarettes, but years ago, as a grower, he ran a tobacco auction of his own.

"I feel more for the growers than maybe the bigger companies. I realize what it takes to put this tobacco here," Bailey said.

Buyers and farmers alike are glad to see auctions like Tuesday's come back to Danville. The last site disappeared in 1999.

"We actually dealt with 140 farmers last year," said Piedmont Warehouse Manager T.Y. Mason.

Unlike receiving stations that force farmers to comply with weight and moisture standards, the auction managers don't turn any tobacco away.

Mason says farmers are able to get good prices for their product.

"On the first quality tobacco here, usually get about the same money as they would at a receiving station. Third and fourth quality, last year, brought even more than the receiving stations," Mason said.

Bailey is walked away Tuesday with 80,000 pounds of tobacco this round, and hopes to be back next week for more.

Mason says matching buyers like Bailey with local producers is what it's all about.

"We've got another option for the farmers to actually make his job easier," Mason said.

The auctions will have a new date starting next week. They will be held every Thursday at Piedmont Warehouse on Trade Street.