COTTON FARMERS in Mississippi's regions 1A and 1B will be asked to vote on extending the Boll Weevil Eradication Program into the maintenance phase in a referendum scheduled Aug. 4-15.

Fifty-eight percent of Region 1A and Region 1B's growers voted in favor of the 10-year maintenance program in a June referendum, but Mississippi law requires a 66-percent approval before a boll weevil eradication program can begin or be continued in the state.

State law also requires that each of Mississippi's four BWEP regions approve the same funding level — $12 per acre — for the maintenance phase of the program. Some growers apparently believe that's what they will be paying in each of the 10 years, but BWEP leaders say that is not likely to be the case.

“We don't anticipate growers will ever pay $12 an acre,” said Farrell Boyd, program manager for the Mississippi BWEP. “We project the cost to be between $8 and $10 for the first two years and $6 to $8 per acre after that. If it costs less than that, growers will pay less.”

“This program is run by farmers for farmers, and we're paying the same assessment they are,” said Rick Parsons, a cotton farmer from Vance, Miss., and member of the Region 1A and Region 1B BWEP board of directors. “I can assure you we're not going to pay a penny more than we have to.”

Boyd said ballots for the August referendum should arrive in growers' mailboxes by Aug. 4 and must be postmarked or returned to the county Farm Service Agency office in each county in regions 1A and 1B by Aug. 15.

Farmers who have questions about the referendum or the eradication program should attend the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp.'s annual meeting at Holmes Community College in Grenada, July 12. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m.

Growers can also contact Boyd at 601-922-3161.