Perspectives Online

Rick Smith receives Tobacco Farm Life Museum ‘Excellence in Agriculture’ Award


Norman Harrell (left), Tobacco Farm Life Museum chairman, and Steve Troxler (right), state agriculture commissioner, present the “Excellence in Agriculture” award to Rick Smith of Independent Leaf Tobacco Co. in Wilson.

Photo courtesy Agribusiness Communications Group
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumnus and benefactor Richard D. “Rick” Smith of Wilson has been named the fifth recipient of the Tobacco Farm Life Museum’s “Excellence in Agriculture” award. Smith, owner of the Independent Leaf Tobacco Co., received the award at a recent Ag Commissioner’s Breakfast for the benefit of the museum in Wilson.

A native of Pitt County, Smith grew up working in his family’s tobacco fields and auction warehouse. He graduated from the CALS Agricultural Institute at N.C. State University.

A longtime advocate for the College and N.C. State, Smith established the Rick Smith Agricultural Institute Scholarship in 2001. The Smith Scholarship goes to the student with the highest GPA at the end of his or her first year in the two-year Institute. Smith also is a founding member of the board of advisers of the CALS Alumni and Friends Society.

For 35 years, Smith worked with Export Leaf Tobacco in Wilson, as leaf buyer and supervisor, senior manager and director of leaf buying and sales. In 2004, he became director of leaf sales for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, following the merger of RJR and Brown & Williamson. In 2006, after his retirement from Export Leaf, Smith formed Independent Leaf Tobacco Company. As an independent tobacco dealer, broker and agent, ILTC buys all types of tobacco from growers and sells it to domestic and international customers.

Within the tobacco industry, Smith has served as a leader of the Tobacco Association of the United States, the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina and the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation. Rick was named a “Tobacco Great’ in 2004 by the CALS Crop Science Department for his contributions to tobacco in the state, nation and world. Most recently, Smith was appointed as a director of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.