Farm Labor

Farm Labor

At R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the selection of quality tobacco has a long, devoted history, dating back to its founder, Richard Joshua Reynolds, who personally chose the leaf for its blends. Today, the company’s Leaf Operations team continues this tradition by carefully selecting only the finest tobaccos for its premium brands.

RJRT tobacco is sourced through leaf suppliers and contracted growers, and the company values its relationships with these groups, as well as with the various farm and grower organizations, including government entities, that strive to provide a safe and responsible work environment for all workers. Growers and farm workers face many challenges, and RJRT expresses its gratitude to them for their dedication to this vital profession.

Ensuring transparency and responsibility in its agricultural supply chain is important to the company and its stakeholders. To this end, RJRT works with GAP Connections, a third-party non-profit organization that monitors factors and sets standards for growers based on U.S. laws, international standards, and industry best practices: Crop, Environment and Labor.

In 2018, RJRT collaborated with GAP Connections to develop a grower certification program, consisting of annual self-assessments, recordkeeping requirements, and audits. Growers provide detailed information about their operations, which is verified during on-farm audits conducted by trained, third-party auditors. These audits ensure compliance with standards such as maintaining nutrient management plans, keeping accurate chemical records, and providing training and personal protective equipment to employees. Core elements of the Labor pillar include on-farm worker interviews and access to a worker concern helpline, demonstrating RJRT’s commitment to respecting human rights in its supply chain.

RJRT has actively assessed conditions on the farms that supply its tobacco and has taken steps to help improve the safety and living conditions of farm workers. The company’s efforts are ongoing and involve both its own initiatives and collaborative efforts with others. Significant contributions to this progress include:

  • Clear expectations outlined in all contracts with growers, including compliance with all applicable employment laws and regulations, prevention of child labor, and participation in the GAP Connections certification process.
  • Monitoring contracted growers through worker interviews and grievance mechanisms to ensure compliance and fair treatment.
  • Development and expansion of customized farmworker training to operations, allowing growers to choose the date, time, and topics best suited for their operation. Topics include general farm safety, farm equipment and machinery (includes ROPS, PTO, and machine safeguarding), green tobacco sickness-symptoms & treatment, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), farm emergency plan and response, GAPC worker rights and responsibilities, GAPC worker concern helpline, NTRM (Non-tobacco related materials) Prevention, GAPC Certification Crop Integrity (Proper baling and market separation, harvesting tobacco), First aid/CPR, Worker Protection Standards (WPS), pesticide safety, and heat stress.

R.J. Reynolds believes its efforts have supported increasing compliance in U.S. tobacco production, with 100% of RAI OpCo growers now participating in the GAP Connections Certification program annually. The company remains dedicated to continuous improvement and transparency in its supply chain.