THE VOTES have all been counted and the winner is — the eradication program.
By a vote of 534 to 22, cotton growers in 17 Louisiana parishes voted to spend up to $10 per acre to initiate a five-year boll weevil eradication maintenance program in the Red River region of the state.
While the farmers who mailed in their ballots for the referendum overwhelmingly approved the measure, only about one-third of eligible cotton growers participated in the vote. According to Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom, 96 percent of the 556 cotton farmers who mailed in ballots voted for the eradication maintenance program. However, that's a small percentage of the 1,579 cotton farmers in the region that were eligible to vote.
“The initial five-year program in the northwestern parishes has effectively eliminated the most troublesome insect in cotton, cut farmers' chemical input costs by some 70 percent and given them one crop that they can expect to see a profit from in the coming year,” Odom says.
The five-year eradication program in the region is reaching its conclusion later this year, which means the five-year maintenance program will begin in 2002 for growers in the Red River region in northwest and central Louisiana. It is expected to cost growers approximately $7 per acre, but that figure could go as high as $10 per acre.
According to Odom, the maintenance program consists of the implementation of traps and monitoring by eradication personnel to insure the boll weevil does not return to the Red River area. “If isolated weevils are found, insecticide applications will be made,” he says.