Are eradication programs still high priorities?
Yes, and they should be funded despite shrinking discretionary dollars. Eradication has provided documented economic and environmental benefits. For example, reduced spraying has enabled “beneficial” insects to multiply and prey on other cotton insect pests further lessening insecticides’ need. Active boll weevil eradication programs for 2010 are concentrated in Texas with program completion there of vital importance to avoid boll weevil population growth that would spread into post-eradication zones. Post-eradication monitoring continues in all cotton states with the goal to eradicate the boll weevil from U.S. cotton by 2013. Producers have passed referendums to support the program’s advancement and have adopted a cost to finish the budget, which includes plans for federal cost share of 30 percent funding ending in 2013. Coordinated efforts with Mexico’s eradication program are enhancing the goal of boll weevil free status.
The pink bollworm eradication phases I and II are nearly complete, with moth and larval populations being reduced by more than 99 percent in Phase I areas and by more than 94 percent in Phase II areas. Phases IIIa and IIIb, involving western Arizona, southeastern California as well as Sonora and the Mexicali Valley, Mexico, regions continue full eradication efforts to achieve eradication goals in those areas over the next several years. Phases I and II areas are hoping to have zero moths and zero larvae detection in 2010 – initiating program downsizing for a three-year verification period before eradication is declared. The FY11 appropriations request would provide funds for rearing and release of 20 million sterile moths per day in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas and for covering direct/indirect administrative program costs for USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service.
What other areas need federal funding?
The NCC has a specific request for funding to be restored in the FY11 budget for USDA’s Regional Integrated Pest Management Centers. These provide critical communication to USDA and EPA of applicable production practices and regional scientific studies with relevance to EPA’s re-registration process for agricultural crop protection products.
More funding is being sought for the Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Cropping Systems Research Laboratory in Lubbock. This will support a fourth scientist at the Unit to focus on air quality research and for additional technical support personnel. The ARS’ first class particulate matter analysis laboratory there conducts research of critical importance to the 17 cotton states. This effort supports the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force efforts in advising the Secretary of Agriculture on critical air quality issues facing all of agriculture, not just cotton production and ginning. In addition, other Unit research on best possible harvest alternatives is vital for this region to take advantage of international market preferences for longer, stronger cotton fiber.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.