Gin Training Seminar Announced

It was announced earlier this year that there wouldn’t be a gin school for the second year in a row… at least not in person. The National Cotton Ginners Association, USDA and various state and regional Associations feel that continued training is a very important part of what we do. Therefore, in lieu of an in-person gin school, the NCGA and USDA are hosting an online Gin Training Seminar.

There will be three seminars in total scheduled one day a week for three weeks. Each session will cover different topics and you can register for one, two or all three. All sessions are from 1PM-5 PM CENTRAL TIME and 4 hrs of Continuing Education Credits will be given for all of these sessions for certified ginners. Please refer to the links in the flyer below. We certainly encourage all of our members to participate. This is a great opportunity for your gin employees to learn from the best in the business.

Please contact Harrison Ashely with the National Cotton Ginners Association for questions.

Gin-Zoom-Training-Seminars-

OSHA ITA Portal Having Issues

The deadline for reporting your OSHA 300A information was two days ago but we understand many people still cannot get into the site or get part way in and receive errors. OSHA has indicated that they are continuing to have problems.

At this point we recommend you keep trying and capturing your screen to prove you’ve been attempting to enter the data. Also, if possible, open a help ticket (that link has been having trouble as well) to get some help in the process. The errors that have been reported range from no establishments associated with a user account, to not being able to reset a password or not being able to establish an account and everything in between.

If we get more information or tips on how to best deal with this, we will let you know.

DSF

*Updated* QLA Deadline Tomorrow *April 9*

From the NCC:
FSA announced today that the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) application deadline has been extended until Friday, April 9 due to the recent winter storms and updates on program rules.  This extension is welcomed in order to give cotton growers additional time to gather production information to complete signup.  

Please contact NCC staff if you have any questions.

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/news-room/news-releases/2021/usda-extends-application-deadline-for-the-quality-loss-adjustment-program?utm_campaign=qla&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery


The deadline to apply for the Quality Loss Adjustment is Tomorrow, March 5, 2021. The program assists producers who suffered quality losses in the 2018 or 2019 crop years. This program requires that producers show a 5% loss on ‘affected production’. This would be bales that had a loss of quality in one or both of those seasons. Bales that do not have a quality reduction are not ‘affected production’ and are not counted in the calculation.

The USDA has a website at www.farmers.gov/quality-loss for more details. We have also attached a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from the National Cotton Council. We have been told that if you don’t have all the documentation together but think you will have a loss, it is best to apply by the deadline and fill in the documentation later.

Please refer to the FAQ below for more information from the NCC:

Quality-Loss-Adjustment-Q-and-A_Mar-3-2021

OSHA 300 Information due TOMORROW

All employers in many categories (including agriculture) must submit their OSHA 300A summary information to OSHA via their web portal. This year’s deadline is March 2 (tomorrow). Please take a few minutes to make sure you have done this. The website is https://www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/ . When you go to that page, look for the Injury Tracking Application to begin the process.

For the past several years, OSHA has been requiring that all employers in most industries, to submit their OSHA 300A summary information to the agency via the web. Most cotton gins are captured in this group of employers that are required to report their data. The only ones that may not have to are the gins that, at no point during the previous calendar year, in this case 2020, had 20 or more employees (peak employment). If you had 19 or fewer employees for the entire year, you will not have to submit your data.

One of the critical things you may want to double check is your DART rate. Please refer to this article that Andy wrote on how to calculate your DART rate. The reason this is critical is that in the past year a few of our members have received some letters from OSHA regarding their DART rate compared to “Industry Average”. Since the Industry Average has been derived on a very small number of sampled employers in the past it may be inaccurate. When the Obama Administration first proposed this electronic submission, the rule’s preamble specifically discussed that the data (DART Rate) may become public, allowing for current or potential employees to see the data in a way similar to how people can look up or view a restaurant’s Health Department Inspection information. The Trump administration stopped that but we are in a new era and there’s no telling what may happen going forward.

The page linked above has a lot of Frequently Asked questions on this process. . You can find most answers on this page or contact Andy Knowlton with Questions regarding the OSHA 300 or 300A summary. We can help with the forms but not the site unfortunately.

Give us a call if you have questions.

AEWR To Be Posted Tomorrow

As previously reported, the 2021 Adverse Effect Wage Rate (Minimum wage for H-2A employers) was delayed due to legal activity over a proposed rule in the waning days of the Trump administration. The USDA wage survey results were released on Feb 11. Tomorrow the DoL will publish the AEWR for 2021 with the wages effective immediately upon publication.

What does this mean? If you don’t hire H-2A workers, then it doesn’t mean anything. If you are currently working H-2A employees then they and your corresponding domestic employees will need to be paid the new wage. If you don’t have any H-2A or won’t until the harvest season, the new wages will need to be paid for 2021.

Wages for 2021 are below.

State2021 AEWR
AL$11.81
FL$12.08
GA$11.81
NC$13.15
SC$11.81
VA$13.15

Your agent or contractor that you work with will be sending this information to you soon if they haven’t already but we wanted to make sure you had it for planning purposes.

DSF

H-2A AEWR Estimates for the Southeast

While not many in the cotton industry use H-2A its use seems to be increasing amongst gins in recent years. Late in 2020, the Trump administration froze the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for calendar year 2021 and changed the way wages for H-2A workers were to be calculated. Before the ink was dry, the rule was the subject of a law suit and stopped.

With that change in rule, the USDA had also announced that it was ceasing the wage survey that was used to calculate the AEWR. When the rule was stopped, the court ordered USDA to publish its annual report of wages by February 11. That report was released yesterday on time for the court order. Some very smart people have developed an estimate of the expected new AEWR which will be released later in February. Below you will find a table of the estimated AEWR for the southeastern states. I know it’s a shocker but all of the rates will be increasing in 2021. Please understand this is only an ESTIMATE based on past calculations using the newly released data. These are NOT the official numbers and will likely change a bit but not much.

State2020 AWRChange2021Est.AEWR
AL11.710.1011.81
FL11.710.3712.08
GA11.710.1011.81
NC12.670.4813.15
SC11.710.1011.81
VA12.670.4813.15
estimated AEWR based on USDA Wage Survey released 2.11.2021

The Southeastern states have smallest increases in the US. AL, GA and SC have increases of .85%. Florida has an increase of 3.16% expected and NC and VA H-2A employers should prepare for an increase of about 3.79%. Nationally, the average wage is expected to increase to $14.28 or a 4.3% change.