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Sustainability Homepage - Commercial Integrity - Responsible Agriculture
Responsible Agriculture

RAI’s largest operating company, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, leads the industry in direct contracting with U.S. growers through innovative engagement programs, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) leadership and training initiatives.

Through contracts with growers, we require compliance with laws protecting workers and the environment; and compliance with GAP with respect to environmental, agronomical and labor criteria. R.J. Reynolds purchases tobacco through service agreements for each RAI tobacco operating company.

Imported tobacco is sourced through a network of leaf suppliers who participate in the AB Sustain Sustainable Tobacco Production (STP) program. This program provides a platform for periodic review of our leaf supply chain and covers key sustainability areas, such as:

  • Factory work environment;
  • Safety;
  • Carbon footprint;
  • Farmer training;
  • Soil and water conservation;
  • Biodiversity;
  • Child labor; and
  • Equal opportunity employment.

Through the STP program, we monitor leaf suppliers’ performance against these criteria, and create an environment of knowledge transfer, capacity building and continuous improvement within our leaf supplier base.

While RAI and its subsidiaries do not employ farm workers or grow tobacco, we engage with stakeholders throughout our sphere of influence to address sustainability risks and opportunities. We put significant effort into ensuring that our contracted growers have the training and resources they need to do the right thing for the people who play an important role in our operating companies’ supply chain.

Risks inherent in agricultural work, together with the special issues that arise when a significant number of farm workers are migrant workers, make social sustainability and human rights on contracted farms a concern for R.J. Reynolds and its affiliates that purchase tobacco, and for many of our stakeholders. The GAP standards, against which we review contract growers, address the following social issues:

  • Farm labor management;
  • Child labor;
  • Forced labor;
  • Freedom of association;
  • Health & safety, including Green Tobacco Sickness;
  • Worker housing; and
  • Wage & hour compliance.

In 2015, we completed a third-party environmental materiality assessment to determine where our largest environmental impacts lie. Not surprisingly, we found that the significant majority of our environmental impacts occur in our supply chain and in particular the farming of tobacco leaf. The GAP standards, against which we review contract growers, address the following environmental management issues:

  • Soil management;
  • Water management;
  • Energy management;
  • Agrochemical management; and
  • Agrobiodiversity.

We continue to productively engage with various activist organizations within the agricultural industry to affect positive change in our sphere of influence. Since 2011, R.J. Reynolds has participated in the Farm Labor Practices Group, a multilateral group of manufacturers, grower representatives, worker advocates and government agencies to address the complex issues affecting farm labor. The group meets regularly to discuss how progress can continue to be made to ensure tobacco and other agricultural crop farmworkers have access to proper training and equipment, appropriate living and working conditions and access to accurate information about wages and other topics.

Goals and Leadership

Our goal is to audit or assess, at least every five years, 100 percent of contracted growers in the U.S. against GAP standards and our grower code of conduct. Internationally, 100 percent of leaf suppliers are audited every three years against AB Sustain STP Standards.

The executive vice president of operations for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and executive vice president of public affairs of Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) are ultimately responsible for RAI’s tobacco supply chain management and goals. The R.J. Reynolds leaf department has service agreements with each RAI tobacco operating company, enabling an integrated, comprehensive approach to managing our leaf supply chain. Executives from leaf and corporate sustainability and commercial equity collaborate to develop, coordinate and execute programs to achieve company-wide goals and targets.

Programs and Priorities

R.J. Reynolds adopts a three-part approach to management of leaf supply chain social and environmental issues.

Promoting Good Agricultural practices (GAP)

farmer training

audits & assessments