MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. -- The second time really must be the charm as Mississippi cotton growers in the north and south Delta voted to continue their battle against the boll weevil. When the ballots in regions 1A and 1B were counted Aug. 22, 1,576 eligible ballots had been cast in the repeat referendum with 67.94 percent of growers in region 1A and 68.95 percent of growers in region 1B voting in favor of the eradication program.
Of the approximately 2,200 cotton producers that were mailed ballots, 861 ballots were cast in the region 1A counties of Leflore, Quitman, Sunflower, Tunica, and west Tallahatchie, and 715 were returned in the Region 1B counties of Bolivar, Coahoma, and Washington.
"We're very pleased that Delta growers chose to continue with the eradication effort," says Jeannine Smith, executive director of the program in Mississippi.
In June, Delta growers failed to approve the same referendum authorizing a 10-year maintenance program, which carries with it a maximum grower assessment of $12 per acre. Since then, eradication proponents have attempted to sway the area's growers to their way of thinking.
"The cost will not be $12 per acre," stresses Farrell Boyd with the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp. "We're reducing our costs, and we will pass those savings onto cotton growers."
The Boll Weevil Management Corporation says it has budgeted $8 to$10 per acre to run the maintenance program for 2004-05, $6 to $8 per acre for 2006-13
"We have been pleased with the success of the eradication effort, and we firmly believe the maintenance program will be the key to keeping boll weevils out of the picture for future cotton-growing generations," says John Swayze, president of the MBWMC board.
Mississippi Extension cotton specialist Will McCarty calls the program "essential" to the cotton industry's success.
"This vote insures that Mississippi growers will be able to fully utilize future technologies available for cotton production," he says. "At this point, the program practically guarantees zero yield losses to boll weevils, and growers will never have to worry about control or losses again as long as eradication is maintained."