After booming for decades, Missouri's tobacco industry has all but collapsed

KMBZ News Staff
October 07, 2019 - 5:34 am

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WESTON, Mo. -- Louis Smither spent more than 60 years farming tobacco on his family farm in Weston.

He has memories as a young boy of working tobacco fields with his father. But he told KMBZ that Missouri's tobacco industry is dying, and his farm became a casualty to the decline of the practice of farming tobacco in the Show-Me State. 

"I'm 73 now, going on 74 years old, and I probably raised tobacco up through age 68," Smither said. 

A few years ago, he decided to call it quits, due in part to major changes in the tobacco industry, and some big competition from overseas. 

"Cheaper foreign imports have been the biggest crisis," Smither explained. "Because we've got minimum wage laws here, and everything else, and other countries, over there, they've got guys who will work for two dollars a day."

Nowadays, Smither runs an animal feed and agricultural warehouse store, New Deal Tobacco, in Weston.

It used to be a hub for tobacco farmers in Platte County to sell their product.

Not any more, though. Smither said it's likely tobacco farming is squarely in Missouri's rearview mirror. 

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