Texas will account for more than 60 percent of the U.S. cotton acreage involved in active boll weevil eradication in 2001.

“We'll have from 5 million to 5.5 million acres in the Boll Weevil Eradication Program this year,” said Woody Anderson, chairman of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation.

Anderson, who recently spoke to the annual meeting of the Plains Cotton Growers Association (PCGA) in Lubbock, said the current program is “better because of the stumbling blocks we encountered early on.”

He said the eradication effort was reborn in the 1997 Texas legislature. “Since then, we've had a strong grassroots effort, involving more producers and improving accountability to growers and funding agencies.

“Direct oversight by the Texas Department of Agriculture also has been an advantage. Success has been more certain and TDA also helped tremendously in getting state funding for the program. That was not an easy sell to the legislature,” he said.

State funding reached $75 million last year. “We have a $50 million appropriation request in Austin now.”

Anderson said federal funds also helped assure the program's success. “BWEP (nationally) got $79 million from the last federal government funding cycle.

“We have a good working relationship in Washington and that has required perseverance and hard work from a lot of people.”

Anderson said the Texas program “has come a long way since 1995. “But we have to stay the course to finish the job. Only four areas in the state remain outside an active zone. We have two areas moving to obtain the adequate number of signatures on a petition to hold a referendum. And two other areas have expressed interest.”

Anderson said a voluntary suppression program was initiated this year in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

“Areas outside the zone will take a hard look at the program, especially with state funding available,” Anderson said. “We're confident of success. In time, we will move the boll weevil out of Texas, after more than 100 years.”


e-mail: ron_smith@intertec.com