Ruling could mean money for state tobacco farmers

By Cara Bailey | Mar 22, 2007

LOUISVILLE, KY - A judge's ruling Monday could mean $130 million could be awarded to the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, including more than 3,800 tobacco farmers from West Virginia.

Several farmers filed a lawsuit in December of 2003, claiming 63 millions pounds of tobacco was sold for $129.9 million, instead of being given to the farmers, like Congress attended.

The co-op has between 190-200,000 members, according to the association's attorney, Doug Stephan.

Eight farmers sued the co-op, based in Lexington, Ky., alleging the organization had a surplus for 11 years prior to 2003, when the suit was filed. Bylaws require the co-op to distribute money to its grower-members if it makes a profit after the growers have been paid.

In addition to West Virginia, growers are located in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.

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