Universal Standards Conference Held in Memphis

One of the functions of the USDA AMS Classing Office is to maintain the world wide accepted standards for cotton quality. Although all cotton in the US is classed using the HVI instruments, the quality standards are based on physical samples of cotton maintained at the USDA. Those physical standards for leaf, and grade are maintained in refrigerated storage at the USDA headquarters lab in Memphis. A duplicate (reserve) is maintained in locked storage at the National Cotton Council.

From time to time those standards are reviewed and agreed upon by all segments of the US industry as well as representatives from a number of other countries that have treaties with the US on the maintenance of cotton standards. This Universal Standards Conference was held the last week of June this year.

Southeastern Cotton Ginners President, Ben Evans, was among the ginners that reviewed the standards and was the spokesperson for the Producer / Ginner segment.

Thanks to the hard work of the USDA staff and the planning that went in to the conference, it went very smoothly. We would like to express our appreciation to the USDA AMS for organizing the conference celebrating 100 years of cotton classing.

More information on the conference can be found at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/30th-universal-cotton-standards-conference

Georgia Labor Relations Forum – Mark Your Calendar

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association (GFVA) has held their Labor Forum in November for several years. This year, they’ve moved it to August. Since November is bad for most row crop producers and of course ginners, this move is quite welcome. It should allow more of our members to attend.

Andy and I have attended this forum for a number of years and have been sponsors for some time. We hope you’ll take some time to check out the web site and consider registering for the Forum. Although it is targeted at H-2A users, both H-2A and non-H-2A employers will find something in this program. As the program develops, the site will include the speakers and topics.

Mark your calendars today and see the attached Flyer.

Successful Southern Gin School Held in Tifton, GA

One of the largest Southern Gin Schools in some time took place last week in Tifton, GA. For the first time in memory, the Southern Gin School took place somewhere other than Stoneville. Last year, Southeastern Cotton Ginners formally asked the National Cotton Ginners and USDA to look into the feasibility of holding a full gin school in our region. The pieces started falling into place late last year to hold the school in Tifton, GA utilizing both the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and the University of Georgia Facilities to teach the school with ABAC being the HOST facility in their brand new Ag Technology Building.

The nearly 125 students and instructors came from 11 states and 30+ gins. Southeastern Staff taught classes in safety and labor issues. Instructors from many vendors, suppliers, USDA and other organizations taught the bulk of the lessons. A HUGE Thanks goes to the all those instructors and especially UGA and ABAC for the use of the facilities and their staff for taking care of the students and instructors for the week.

NCGA and USDA only committed for one year. It will be back in Stoneville next year, but the success should allow having the school in the SE at some time in the future. Thank you to all the participated and all that were instructors.

  • Gin School pictures

Passing of Fred Powell

It is with deep sadness that from time to time that we let our membership and friends know of the passing of one of our members. This is one of those times. Fred Powell with The Cotton Gin in Lenox, GA passed away on Saturday

Fred was a long-time member of this organization and a friend to all. He was well liked among ginners across the region and was well respected for his agronomic skill and understanding the way cotton grew. He was always the person I would turn to when yields were better or worse than expected. He would always call during the growing season to let me know what EXACTLY was going on with the crop. He loved ginning cotton and it showed whenever he would be around the gin.

Not only was Fred a long standing member of the organization he served as a board member whenever the opportunity arose. He never had a problem letting us know when he didn’t agree with a path we were taking nor did he hold back when he thought we were doing well. I will truly miss Fred’s counsel.

Funeral services for Fred will be tomorrow, June 11, 2024. Full obituary information below.

https://www.currentobituary.com/member/obit/285361?iframe=true&width=93%&height=120%

Or : https://www.bowen-donaldson.com/Obituaries.html

Farmworker Protection Rule Webinar

Our friends at the National Council of Agricultural Employers have let us know about a webinar for the New Farmworker Protection Rule. This rule has some huge impacts on the H-2A employment community. If you’re interested please see the information below.


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Farmworker Protection Final Rule Webinar

Good morning, 
The Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it will host a webinar to review their recently published Farmworker Protection Final Rule on May 23, 2024 at 3:00 PM ET. The webinar will last approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Registration is not required, however attendance will be capped at 1000. The webinar will be posted to their site at a later undisclosed date. 
As a reminder, the Final Rule will become effective June 28 and OFLC will begin accepting applications subject to the provisions of this rule on August 29.
We encourage you to save the webinar access information to your calendar so you can secure your spot in the webinar. 
Thursday, May 23, 2024
3:00 PM | (UTC-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada) | 1 hr 30 minsJoin from the meeting link:
https://usdol.webex.com/usdol/j.php?MTID=ma26d3026be80383b09fadbfafa063487Join by meeting number:
Meeting number (access code): 2828 054 0956
Meeting password: H2ARule2024Join by phone:
1-877-465-7975 US Toll Free
1-210-795-0506 US TollJoin from a video system or application:
Dial 28280540956@usdol.webex.com

Heat Illness – A HOT Topic

Okay… I’ll never be a comedian with that kind of material….

Today OSHA announced its continued targeting of agriculture for its efforts in preventing injuries and illnesses from heat in both indoor and outdoor settings. In the press release linked below, OSHA has said it will be focusing a lot of outreach and enfacement on the agriculture sector and particularly in areas where a high number of H-2A workers are employed.

OSHA has been working on a Heat Injury and Illness Enforcement rule for nearly two years. Last week Acting Labor Secretary told a Congressional committee the agency intends to have a draft rule published later this year. It seems this will be the second summer in a row that OSHA will be inspecting and enforcing heat issues without a proper rulemaking

What does that mean for us as cotton ginners? That’s still a bit unclear. The first Summer OSHA had a focus on heat injury and illnesses the region to our west inspected 13 cotton gins in Mississippi. None of the gins that were visited had full inspections and all had some version of a plan for heat illnesses and injuries. With the increased focus on H-2A it may change the dynamic a bit.

Last fall, OSHA held a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Advisory (SBREFA) Panel The SBREFA panel included two cotton ginners.. one from Texas and Wes Morgan from North Carolina. Many of the small businesses that participated in the panel said similar things…particularly those in the South. Employers understand heat as we have mostly grown up in it. They take steps to make sure new employees are properly acclimatized and they provide PLENTY of water rest and shade.

At this point (even given all that has been done in the past) our advice is to visit OSHA’s heat illness and injury page and review the materials, post the posters and distribute the handouts to your employees as it begins to get warm this summer. That page can be found here: www.osha.gov/heat

TODAY’S OSHA PRESS RELEASE CAN BE FOUND HERE