The National Cotton Council’s Boll Weevil Action Committee voted to support the development of a federal quarantine to protect weevil-free zones in the Cotton Belt from possible re-infestation.
The program would likely be implemented in post-eradication, around 2005-06," said the NCC’s Frank Carter. The recommendation was made during the committee’s fall meeting, Oct. 3, in Memphis.
The quarantine would require cleaning of any "cotton articles" that move from a weevil-infested zone through or to weevil-free zones. Cotton articles include equipment, seed cotton and cotton products.
"The quarantine will be drafted through the federal register process and will be posted for public comment. The process takes 18 months to two years to get through the federal systems," Carter said.
The committee, which consists of 18 cotton producers, also made recommendations on how any federal eradication funds will be allocated among cotton-producing states this coming year.
Complicating the process is the delay in moving the appropriations process through Congress. Funds could range from $34 million to $79 million, the amounts proposed in the House and Senate, respectively. "The allocation could be in that range, but it could be a lot less. We don’t know," said Carter.
The committee decided to base its recommendations on a $79 million federal allocation, according to Carter. "We feel like we need that much. Our total program estimated cost next year is going to be $255 million. We’ve tried hard to get a 30 percent cost-share (from the government)."
The committee heard requests from individual state needs for funding, including debt retirement, according to Carter. After those needs were met, the remaining funds were divided among participating states on a pro-rated share of expected operating costs.
Part of the allocation will go to five new eradication programs, and possibly three more, according to Carter. The five are: the Missouri Bootheel, the northeast ridge in Arkansas, and south Blacklands, southern High Plains Caprock, northern High Plains in Texas.
The new eradication programs push the total number of acres under active weevil eradication to about 10 million acres, compared to 7.5 million in 2000.
If three other zones — the upper Coastal Bend, northern Blacklands in Texas and the northeast Delta region in Arkansas — begin eradication within a year, only two zones — the lower Rio Grande Valley and the St. Lawrence area of Texas — would not be participating in eradication.
Last year’s hard winter appears to have helped pare down the program’s insecticide costs, noted Carter. "We were anticipating a shortage of malathion ULV at this time of the year. But as of mid-August, we were at about 50 percent of what we expected to use for the year."
e-mail: [email protected]