February 3, 2004 - Posted at 7:54 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A judge has ruled the State Plant Board acted lawfully last year when it imposed a pesticide-spraying program on northeast Arkansas cotton farmers. The board assessed fees to the farmers, even though the farmers did not agree to join the program.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Jay Moody said in a partial ruling in a lawsuit brought by several cotton farmers that the board has the authority to force the farmers into the Arkansas Boll Weevil Eradication Program.
Between 1997 and 2003, farmers in Mississippi County and eastern Craighead County voted five times against participating in the program. They claimed they didn't have a problem with boll weevils.
But the Plant Board took action in May to force the growers to join. The board said the non-participation would hurt eradication efforts in surrounding regions. The board charged the farmers $8 per acre to help cover the costs of the program.