There are a few true “Characters” that have crossed my path in the years I’ve been working in the cotton business. Few rise to the level that Clayton Lowder did. Clayton retired from the gin business many years ago but anyone that was ginning in the southeast prior to the mid-2000’s knew his name. And if they didn’t know when they met him, they learned how to say Oswego and where it was.
Clayton had a way about him that you knew where you stood. He was supportive and direct at the same time. There are few that love the organizations they are involved with like Clayton did. No matter whether a grower or a ginner or church organization, if Clayton thought it was worth his time, you got his full attention.
Clayton is the only person to be president of both Southern Cotton Growers and Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association. He was also ginner of the year in 1994. Clayton was unique and I mean that in the best way possible. He loved life, he loved his family, he loved farming and he loved Clemson. His love of cotton ran closely with his love of Clemson and his love of baseball. Clayton passed away on Monday. He will be missed. Much more information in the obituary below. Our prayers and sympathies go to his family.
It is with a heavy heart that we recognize the passing of one of our industry’s true personalities. Gary Bass retired just a few years ago with 30+ years in the insurance world most recently with Arthur J. Gallagher. Gary was not only well known in our small world as an insurance agent, he was a fixture at the Southern Southeastern Annual Meeting taking the mic for a few songs giving our world just a taste of what he was probably best known for, his love of beach music both as a vocalist and as a DJ.
Although retired, he kept up with the industry and had many friends across the region in the cotton ginning world. Gary will definitely be missed. Keep his family in your prayers. Gary was 69.
The Summer Board meeting of the Southern Cotton Growers and Southeastern Cotton Ginners Associations has been cancelled. The officers of each organization met jointly yesterday and came to the conclusion that an in-person meeting just would not be prudent given the state of the pandemic. The meeting was scheduled to be in Panama City Beach, FL in mid-July and with the spike in positive tests in Florida and the fact that the accommodations the hotel was able to provide changed often, the officers knew there was no way to have a functional meeting in that environment.
Both organizations will have online versions of some, if not all, of their meetings but it just won’t be the same. We know some non-board members and associate members were planning on attending this year’s meeting and we apologize for the inconvenience. Understand this decision was not made lightly. We will not be cancelling any reservations if you had planned on coming. You must cancel your rooms yourself. Thank you for your understanding and give us a call if you have any questions.
A little over a week ago the CDC issued guidance for agricultural operations (Link below). In recent weeks the number of cases of Covid have been increasing significantly. Some say it is due to the increased testing others say it is spreading rapidly as the economy moves back to ‘normal’. I don’t know either way but anecdotally I have been told by ginners that have family working in hospitals that they are seeing more cases than they did at the ‘peak’ and that the cases are younger people. I’ve also been told that a lot of the positive tests are younger people with few or no symptoms. All this means is that there is a lot we don’t know but that the virus is still out there and we can’t let our guard down.
What does this all mean for gins? I’m not sure other than as we move toward ginning season, we should be prepared for this to still be here when we start in to the crop. As this virus mutates and moves through the community, no one knows whether it will go away or reduce it’s ability to make people very sick. Gins that bring in a number of workers from other places need to be especially careful. The deadly nature of this bug seems to be diminishing some but it still will kick some butts. Many folks that get even moderate symptoms seem to have lasting effects for weeks after the active infection. I’m explaining all this to say you don’t want to have this virus move through your crew at a critical time. Losing part, or worse all, of your crew in the middle of gin season could be very difficult to deal with.
The CDC has issued GUIDANCE FOR AGRICULTURAL WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS. Please take some time to read the guidance and follow the workplace assessment and share with your employees. Come up with a plan to handle a worker that gets infected. Come up with a plan for if the virus moves through your housing or where your workers live. Encourage them to know what causes spread and how to handle it in their own community.
Now is the time to make a plan.
USDA FSA updated their FAQ page that clarified one very pertinent issues to producers and ginners in the Southeast. In reading the USDA Handbook for the CFAP program another issue that has generated a few questions was also answered.
The first deals with contracts where the cotton was delivered but had not been priced. The FAQ page https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/faq discusses and includes a chart that outlines what is and what is not eligible for payment under this program. It clearly says that cotton that has been delivered but not priced IS ELIGIBLE for the CFAP program. This is a question we’ve gotten several time.
The second question deals with cotton harvested after January 15th. If it is harvested after Jan 15, it will be added to the production and the non-priced production as of Jan 15.
More as we get additional information.
During this Coronavirus pandemic, almost everything seems to be changing on a daily or weekly basis, this change is also effecting how employers handle the requirements of OSHA Recordkeeping. OSHA Recordkeeping is the standard that guides employers on how they must record any work-related injury and/or illness. This information is to be included on your OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 forms. This article will focus on how employers record confirmed COVID-19 cases and how to determine if the exposure is work-related.
The first guidance from OSHA regarding COVID-19 and recordkeeping requirements was issued on April 10. This early guidance was very vague and confusing which has led to new guidance that came out on May 19 and will go into effect on May 26, 2020. The current guidance requires most all employers to determine whether confirmed cases of COVID 19 are work-related when completing the OSHA 300 Logs listing injuries and illnesses. In accordance with existing regulations, the only employers that are exempt from maintaining such injury and illness records are those with 10 or fewer employees. Under the new guidance, the key question remains whether a case of COVID-19 is work-related. OSHA continues to acknowledge that it will be difficult to establish that a particular case is work-related due to potential exposure both in and out of the workplace. This current guidance places additional obligations on employers to conduct analysis and to make a reasonable determination of work-relatedness.