Three hip replacements later, Thompson began Thompson’s Prawn Farm in Cedar Grove, N.C.
Thompson said his surgeries coincided with the 2004 United States government buyout of the tobacco industry.
“When the tobacco buyout happened, I had medical problems, so this is why I got out of tobacco farming,” he said. “If it weren’t for that I would still be farming tobacco.”
The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 eliminated price support loans, which Thompson said forced small farmers like him out of tobacco farming.
“If you don’t get big, you get out,” he said.
Richard Reich, assistant commissioner for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the number of tobacco farms has decreased statewide in the last few years for several reasons.
He said there have been consolidations of smaller tobacco farms to improve efficiency, which had led to a decrease in the number of total farms.
“The tobacco industry has even more pressure on it, so the demand for tobacco has declined and that’s been a factor as well,” Reich said.