The Arkansas’ annual pesticide registration fee last increased 13 years ago. The cost of operating the Arkansas State Plant Board’s pesticide division has doubled since.
“In a nutshell, that’s why we had to ask for a fee increase,” says Mike Thompson, head of the Plant Board’s pesticide division. “We met with the manufacturers and explained our needs. After hearing us out, they agreed to support us.”
The “relatively low-key process” recently culminated in the Plant Board unanimously approving a fee hike. “We met with reps from the pesticide manufacturers and they were willing to support it. We certainly appreciate that because we want to continue providing the same level of work.”
The fee will increase by $100 over two years. It will increase to $200 in 2008 and to $250 in 2009.
“Running the division is simply more expensive,” says Thompson. “I can’t say what the number of cases was in the early 1990s because I wasn’t here. But I know the expenditures to run the program have risen (rapidly). In 1993, it cost around $900,000 to run the program. Now, it costs between $1.8 million and $1.9 million.”
And other things play a factor. “Originally, we didn’t maintain a weather network across the state. Now, we’ve got 45 weather stations across the eastern half of the state. That’s a crucial aspect of our enforcement program.”
The division’s investigative procedures are now “more detailed than they used it be. That takes more time. And we’re getting a lot more demand on our services for enforcement cases. That was illustrated by last year’s cases involving 2,4-D. With those, we set a record with nearly 600 cases worked. Normally, we run about 250 to 300 cases.”