Eradication of the boll weevil and the pink bollworm is nearing completion, and federal cost share funding for the next few years is vital to ridding the Cotton Belt of these costly pests.
What is the current status of these important eradication efforts?
The partnerships between the U.S. cotton industry and USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication efforts are true success stories. No boll weevil was captured east of the Mississippi River in 2010. Active boll weevil eradication programs for 2010 were concentrated in Texas. Post-eradication monitoring continues in all states, with 2013 set as the target for full U.S. Cotton Belt eradication. A cost to finish budget through 2013 has been approved by U.S. producers that includes 30 percent federal cost share funding.
The pink bollworm, which has been costing U.S. cotton producers $32 million annually in control costs and lost yields, is being squeezed from the Far West. Through the 2010 production season, there has been a greater than 95 percent reduction in moth captures in all zones with no larval finds in any active eradication zone in 2010. Procedures have been developed for a three- year verification period in areas with zero detections or captures before eradication is declared.
How is the NCC helping to secure funding?
The National Cotton Council updated its boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication educational videos to keep both incumbent and newly elected Congressional members informed of the significant progress – and the importance of completing eradication and preventing any re-infestation.
Earlier, the NCC relayed the industry’s request for FY11 funding to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittees on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. The NCC’s letters cited, along with the need for new technology research and export promotion support, the necessity for successful completion of the boll weevil eradication program and full implementation of pink bollworm eradication. The NCC’s request included $22.19 million for APHIS to provide a federal cost share for both eradication programs, which are combined into a joint Cotton Pests account.
Included in the NCC’s request were $7.86 million for pink bollworm eradication and $14.33 million for boll weevil eradication – the total being lower than the approved FY10 request of $23.39 million. The NCC also 1) requested sufficient funding to allow the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to make at least $100 million in loans to eligible Boll Weevil Eradication Foundations and 2) conveyed strong support for providing FSA with continued authority to make loans for pink bollworm eradication program activities as previously provided in the FY05 and subsequent years’ appropriations legislation.
What’s the next step?
A continuing resolution kept funding in place through November, and Congress was expected to fund an omnibus spending package at the end of November. The NCC will continue to raise awareness among lawmakers about the eradication programs’ economic and environmental contributions and remind them that producers are bearing a greater proportion of the programs’ costs in light of shrinking discretionary dollars.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.
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