Forklift Train-the-Trainer

Earlier this year, the Alabama/Florida State-Unit asked that we organize a forklift train-the-trainer session or two across the state. There are a number of ways to get lift truck drivers trained but in today’s world and labor market, it’s difficult to get someone trained / certified in a timely manner that’s why we decided to hold a couple of these.

The OSHA regulations state that anyone driving a powered industrial truck be properly trained and demonstrate competence (I’m condensing the rule greatly). While those regulations don’t apply directly to ginning, they do apply to warehouse operations. People driving lift trucks (squeeze or forks or other attachments) need to have proper training and demonstrate to the trainer that they have been trained and are competent. Labor around a gin and warehouse is often tough. Add to that the demand on loading and receiving at the same time as we’ve seen in the past few years, it can make acquiring that training difficult before putting someone to work.

We have, for a long time, advocated having supervisors trained to be lift truck trainers and having them do the training rather than relying on an outside firm to do the training. To that end, we have scheduled two sessions for train-the-trainer classes. Since these are being scheduled at the request of the Alabama/Florida Unit, we have scheduled them in Alabama but they are by no means limited to Alabama members. All members are welcome to attend but space is limited.

Because this is specialized training, there is a fee associated with this and the space is limited to ten per location. The cost is $300 per attendee and still doesn’t totally cover our costs. We are holding the sessions in Courtland, AL at Servico and in Andalusia at Covington Gin.

Attendees at these sessions will have both classroom and practical time during the day and be able to certify lift truck drivers for their organizations going forward. Please FOLLOW THIS LINK to get to the sign up page for the session. Again space is limited and the sessions are right around the corner. Andalusia will be July 26 and Courtland is August 9.

Give us a call or email if you have questions.


FINALLY Disaster Package Passes Congress

On Monday, the House finally passed the long awaited disaster funding. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill before the Memorial Day break and we had to wait until Monday while staunch fiscal conservative members from various states held up the matter three times in. The House passed the measure by a 354-58. All Democrats and a vast majority of republicans voted for the bill. The roll call vote can be found here.

The bill included $5.5 Billion for agriculture including the hurricanes in the SE and wildfires out west but also the flooding earlier this year in the mid-west. Details of the program aren’t out yet but the program that most of our producers will be working with is the WHIP program. This is a slightly better version of the WHIP from the 2017 crop with some slight changes to the whip factor.

Other news sources will have more detailed information as the rules are written and the program is implemented. We had been waiting on this so long, we wanted to make sure you knew this was moving forward finally. I’m a bit late getting this out as Andy and I are both in MS teaching at gin school this week.

Disaster Bill Passed—-Almost

After several weeks of negotiation and haggling between the House, Senate and White House, a compromise on the long-awaited disaster bill finally came through YESTERDAY. The House passed a bill late last week and the Senate finally worked things out and passed their own version of a 19 Billion dollar bill. All indications are that the President has agreed to sign the bill. Everything had been on track to get the bill passed before the Memorial Day Break UNTIL….

The House had to agree on the Senate passed bill rather than sending the bill to conference. It had been expected that since the Senate bill was substantially similar to the House passed bill that a Unanimous Consent vote could be taken for final passage but there wasn’t unanimous consent. A lone congressman from Texas, Chip Roy, expressed objection to the the unanimous consent and therefore blocked passage of the bill for today. Most of the House and the Senate left for a week long break yesterday. There is no way to take a voice vote today.

While there is a technical possibility to have another unanimous consent vote next year, the consensus seems to be that there will be a vote after they return in 10 days. It is largely expected that the bill will pass when they return by a significant margin but as we’ve seen before in the Congress, nothing is etched in stone.

We will likely have to wait to see what happens in what seems to have turned into a soap opera type never ending saga of this disaster bill. Stay Tuned.

In the mean time, we hope you and your family have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Second MFP Announced

In response to the lack of progress on trade negotiations and the increasing tariffs that China has imposed on US commodities, the USDA has announced a second Market Facilitation Program. The first MFP was for the 2018 crop while this one will be for the 2019 crop. While the 2018 program was based on production of affected commodities, this one will be based on planted acres.

The program, as we understand it right now, will be based on 2019 combined plantings of affected commodities (including cotton) regardless of the acreage of each commodity planted. Each county will get a per acre per county payment and will be limited to a maximum of your 2018 plantings. This is being done so as not to affect the planting decisions of a given commodity.

The program will be delivered in up to three tranches where the first one will be set soon and the second and third will be based on market and tariff conditions. Once USDA plantings are set in mid July the payments will be determined for the first tranche.

More information can be found in the USDA press release found here:


Tariff Assistance Program Likely in Days not Weeks or Months

Senior leadership in the Trump administration have told journalists in the past day or two that the assistance that the President talked about late last week could be announced in days not weeks or months like the Disaster Bill has been.

Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney told journalists in Washington this morning that this is an all hands on deck issue. Americas farmers need to understand that the Administration has its back according to reports. Secretary Perdue has been quoted as saying assistance in response to the Chinese deal breaking down is a very high priority. The Secretary is currently on a tour of Asian countries this week.

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Gin School Right Around the Corner

The National Cotton Ginners Association and USDA Gin Labs work together each year to put on several ginning schools across the country. The third and final school for 2019 will be in Stoneville, MS from June 4th through the 6th. This is the closest school to the SE each year. Many manufacturers and designers as well as researchers and experts in regulatory and safety issues will be on hand to give the attendees presentations on a number of topics.

This year there will once again be three levels of school covering various levels of experience and detail. Level one is the most basic and is designed for those that are just beginning in the process. Level two is an intermediate level and level three is the most advanced. Most of the levels require the previous level to attend. There is also a continuing education session for two of the three days which typically goes into a few topics a bit more in depth.

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