Connecticut River Valley: Decline in Cigar Tobacco Production in an Era of Globalization

Authors: Matthew McKay*, University of Florida
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: economic globalization, southern New England, cash crop, cigar tobacco
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 18
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The suburban/exurban municipalities of the prime agricultural lands of the Connecticut River Valley had entailed large-scale tobacco crop production as a substantial agricultural activity. “Tobacco Valley” encompassed open-field and “shade” tobacco farming that was dominant throughout much of the 20th Century, given that this type of tobacco had prominence on the rural landscape. The uniqueness of tobacco production in this area of New England was facilitated by the soil conditions, topography, and microclimatic seasonal conditions that provided an ideal growing environment for the major inputs utilized to manufacture high quality cigars. The inputs from the Connecticut River Valley provided wrappers and binders for finished cigars. Consequently, the inputs toward cigar manufacturing were transported elsewhere for final assembly in the cigar production network (given that filler components would be produced in other tobacco-growing regions). However, property owners of tobacco (and other) farms witnessed falling revenues during the mid-to-latter part of the 20th Century, thereby necessitating a transition of land toward becoming increasingly suburbanized. Yet, “Tobacco Valley” in New England has had an important role on the region’s economic geography, and certainly tobacco production has contributed to and been influenced by globalization, in addition to changing consumption patterns. With the decline of tobacco production after the 1960s at this scale, despite the continued niche market being fulfilled at yet a smaller scale, warrants further investigation to better understand the changing land use patterns that have ensued and to what extent tobacco production will continue in this agricultural valley of Southern New England.

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