Airport managers request help with crop dusters

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Crop dusters using the Panola County Airport will be asked to clean up their spills and use safer runway practices after a short discussion at the Board of Supervisors meeting Monday.

County Administrator Kate Victor told board members that the airport management team had requested the county provide some direction about how to correct problems that are occurring with operators of agricultural aviation efforts.

Victor said she received reports that crop duster pilots are taking off and landing on the taxiway, and that supply trucks have left fertilizer waste on the loading ramps. Additionally, the pilots are not purchasing airplane fuel from the airport, a source of income for the management team.

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Victor said the supervisors were asked to provide input and guidance on how to proceed with a new business policy for the airport board to consider. Some have suggested crop dusters pay a fee to use the airport, but no decision was made on Monday.

Supervisor John Thomas said farmers can’t be expected to purchase full-price fuel from the airport, or any other source, because agricultural exemptions allow them to buy fuel tax-free.

“We sure need to make anybody clean up if they make a mess, but it would be too costly if they couldn’t provide their own fuel,” Thomas said.

The matter will be investigated by the board and further discussion is expected at the next regular meeting of the board, set for Monday, July 17, at the Batesville Courthouse.