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Delta growers prepare for weevil referendum
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton growers in the north Mississippi Delta are preparing for a vote to decide continued participation in the Southeastern efforts to eliminate boll weevils across the Cotton Belt.
Growers in boll weevil eradication regions 1A and 1B will be voting on a 10-year continuation of organized efforts to rid their fields of history's most destructive cotton pest. Eradication efforts during the last five years have reduced yield losses from boll weevils to zero.
Ballots, mailed to growers on May 30, must be postmarked or returned to county Farm Service Agency offices by 4:30 p.m. on June 13. County FSA employees will count the ballots on June 20. Growers will vote on annual assessments of not more than $12 per acre. To have a valid referendum, 50 percent of the eligible growers must return ballots and more than 66 percent must vote in favor.
Jeannine Smith, executive director of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp., said program managers hope actual assessments will be between $8 and $10 for the next couple of years, then drop even lower to $6 to $8 per acre.
"Eradication efforts across the state have gone very well, especially in the North Delta regions," Smith said. "We have every reason to be optimistic for the future control efforts."
The current eradication program started in Mississippi's eastern counties in 1997 and progressed annually westward. The north Delta regions voted to join the program in 1999. Those counties include Coahoma, Bolivar, Washington, Sunflower, Leflore, Quitman, Tunica and parts of Tallahatchie.
Contact: Jeannine Smith, (662) 325-2993