So, we’re most of the way through the season and I thought I’d give y’all an update.
Beltwide Cotton Conference
The Beltwide Cotton Conference is just a couple weeks away now and many of the National Cotton Ginners Association committees will be meeting. Ginners from across the country will be at the meeting to discuss various issues facing ginners. It is a time to share between the association members on the various concerns they have and how they are facing them. Our members and staff will be attending these committee meetings. Also there are various technical sessions scheduled to take place and these are an excellent place to learn about new technologies and updates on various research projects. BELTWIDE COTTON CONFERENCE
Southern Southeastern Annual Meeting
The Southern Southeastern Annual Meeting is just a week after the Beltwide. If you can’t make the Beltwide, make sure you come to Savannah for the Southern Southeastern Meeting. The is something for everyone. Registration can be found at www.southern-southeastern.org/meetings/annualmeeting.html . We hope to see you there.
We have certainly seen better years and we’ve seen worse years in safety. I’m not sure if we’re getting notified about more (we like to get notified on injuries) or if we’ve had more but it seems that the number of accidents has increased this year. We’ve certainly seen a number of accidents that required notification of OSHA. Because of the nature of these calls, we’ve had a number of gins that have had OSHA inspections this fall. Remember, if you have a catastrophe (multiple people sent to the hospital), fatality, amputation (with our without bone loss, loss of an eye or, in-patient hospitalization, OSHA now requires notification. Whether or not it results in an on-site inspection seems somewhat random but nearly all of them this year have seen OSHA come to the gin.
It is important for our ginners to stay abreast of the
latest technology, research and quality related issues that impact the ginning
industry. The upcoming 2020 Cotton
Ginning Conference is just the venue to accomplish this. The Ginning Conference will include research
papers and panel discussions on several timely topics and will include the
latest on the development of systems to detect and eliminate plastic
contamination, fiber quality preservation, the use of RFID technology, and new
products from machinery manufacturers. There
will be two panel discussions that include fiber quality and the cotton
industry’s emphasis on increasing length uniformity and a panel to discuss
methods to transfer technology to the ginning industry. The Ginning Conference begins at 1:30 p.m.
Thursday and will conclude at 11:00 a.m. Friday.
The National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA) will hold
committee meetings beginning at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and end at 11:00 a.m.
Thursday. The Ginning Conference and most
of the NCGA Committee meetings are open to all ginners and interested parties
attending the conference.
Earlier this year we heard that gins would be an emphasis of the Wage and Hour Division in the Southeast this season. It seems that rumor has come true. This week we’ve heard of several gins in SC and Mississippi (also part of the Atlanta region) getting visits from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division staff.
The typical inspection/audit will include topics such as payroll, Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act, H-2A (if you employ any) etc. Normally the inspectors will ask for payroll records to check for minimum wage violations, and overtime violations. If you have H-2A workers it will be bit more involved. If you have and house migrant workers (employees that leave their home to come to work for you) or if you have H-2A workers, your housing will likely get inspected. If you transport migrant workers or H-2A workers, your vehicles and insurance will also likely be inspected.
Last year many producers learned how important proper staging of round modules can be. From what I’ve seen driving around recently, we may be setting ourselves up for a remedial course.
I’ve seen a lot of round modules (the vast majority of them) were stages very neatly in groups of four rammed completely up against each other. No space whatsoever between them. So far most of the weather in the region this Fall has been beautiful (but hot) to harvest and its easy to forget rain can be an issue. If we get several inches or if it sets in for a significant period of time, these modules can sustain a LOT of degradation and become very tough to gin in some cases.
Please refer to John Deere’s own material found on the last page of the material linked below. It shows perfect examples of what is good and what is not. Modules stacked too close together can be both a quality and a contamination issue. Your producers need to understand how serious this can be.
Stacking modules on the yard too tightly can be an issue too. If you have a large yard and it will be a while before you can get to a number of rolls, the spacing needs to be appropriate here too. If your yard is small and you will get to the modules quickly its obviously not that critical.
In many areas, this crop is better than expected. Let’s keep this quality rolling.
The Department of Labor recently announced a change to its rules as to who is completely exempt from overtime. The Rule change will become effective January 1, 2020. This exemption is in regards to employees that are totally exempt from overtime and not the partial overtime exemption that is available to gins on a seasonal basis.
Under the current (old) rule, to be exempt an employee has to make at least $455 per week ($23,660 annually) paid on a salary basis. The New Rule changes that to a minimum $684 per week ($35,568 annually) also paid on a salary basis. The rest of the rules remain the same. The Obama administration had proposed a similar rule change but that was blocked by the courts and ultimately repealed. That previous (Obama era) proposal was to increase it to $913 per week. This seems much more reasonable (almost exactly half way).
As a refresher, in order for an employee to qualify for this total exemption from overtime, often referred to as the “administrative exemption”, the employee must meet three criteria. The first is to be paid on a salary basis. This means the employee must be paid the same amount each week or pay period. Salaried employees ARE NOT automatically exempt. Salaried-Non Exempt employees is the subject of a whole other article.
The National Cotton Council will be hosting four webinars related to the new farm bill. Sign up for the 2018 Farm Bill has just begun and the NCC is hosting these webinars to help producers understand the various options involved in the process.
The Council is also encouraging gins or other entities to host groups of farmers to allow as many as possible to see the webinars. Questions will be taken via a chat client in the webinar program and the webinars will also be recorded for viewing at a later date. Please Click on the image above for additional information and how you may be able to host a group of farmers at your facility.