Tobacco Warehouse Ready for Business

Reporter: Ashley Singh l Videographer: Nick King

Danville, VA - A former tobacco auction warehouse is selling tobacco once again, but this time there is no auction. The owners sell privately, through sealed bids.

Harry Lea, owner of Piedmont Warehouse, says it is a place for farmers to bring tobacco that they couldn't sell to contractors on their own.

"We're selling excess tobacco, rejected tobacco or just plain maybe unwanted tobacco," he said. "Instead of just taking the tobacco back letting it sit on the farm and trying to wonder what to do with it next, we can put it on the floor."

Producing tobacco costs a lot, so rather than lose money, throw their tobacco away or let it sit on a farm, at this warehouse they can at least make some money back. It gives farmers in this area, an option they didn't have before.

Extension Agent Stephen Barts says tobacco companies are very particular about what they want. He says that's why farmers have trouble selling all of their crop. This warehouse provides them with another avenue.

"The tobacco companies need a specific style, type color, stalk position of tobacco in order to fit their blends," Barts said. "This will give them an opportunity to sell that tobacco to a company that it does meet the needs for."

Lea says farmers won't make as much selling their tobacco at his warehouse, but they may, at least, break even.

"They will receive more money selling the tobacco under contract than they will bringing it to us. We are sort of a, I hate to say a last resort, but we're an option."