Laura Krauser

Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Geography and Geosciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

tobacco; remote sensing; agricultural policy; the Tobacco Buyout; the Tobacco Transition Payment Program; land-change science


Agricultural policy allows for governing bodies to better control the landscape, economy, and security of resources. Because of this power, it is essential for policy and its effects to be thoroughly understood. This study examines the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP, “tobacco buyout”), in effect from 2005 to 2014, using a mixed methods approach. The TTPP lifted the existing geographic restrictions of tobacco production and deregulated market prices formerly controlled by the government. Kentucky’s economic, social, and agricultural landscapes changed significantly in the wake of this legislation. To explore these changes, this study employs semi-structured interviews and remote sensing analyses for a full understanding of the tobacco buyout in Kentucky. Remote sensing, and specifically multispectral imagery, offer an effective and economical way to classify crops, which is important in understanding what exists on the physical landscape. Using Landsat imagery from 2015, I employed a supervised classification of data to quantify the extent of tobacco production. I then integrate the classified landscape with survey and interview data regarding trends among tobacco farmers. This research will not only provide an extension of the existing narrative for the buyout, and further explore TTPP policy’s influence on the Kentucky agricultural landscape, but also exemplify remote sensing as a tool for policy assessment.