>Bale Weight Tolerances a Bit Tighter

>As mentioned at the state meetings, the Memphis Cotton Exchange has tightened the rules a bit on weights delivered against a contract. Apparently there has been some confusion of what is expected as far as weights of bales and potential penalties when bales are made too light. Following the 2010 crop year, a number of gins around the country were making unusually light bales and expecting the Rule 19 penalties would be a cost of doing business. References to a contract lot tolerance were removed several years ago when weight rules were readjusted. The old rules had a 2% tolerance in them. They have now tightened the tolerance to 1% and added it to both Rule 19 and Rule 1.

This change brings the Memphis Cotton Exchange rules and tolerances in line with the ICE contrats. Merchants routinely hedge the cotton purchased in the US on the ICE board. Those future contracts are
based on a 1% tolerance. This doesn’t mean that every bale has to be 500lbs +/- 5 lbs. That would be an impossible standard to achieve. Merchants will be looking at contract averages as they compare to the 1% tolerance. This does not mean that Rule 19 weight penalties for individual bales has been eliminated. The new language is in addition to the old language.

Harrison Ashley with the National Cotton Ginners Association had a very informative conversation with Hope Brooks. Hope explained the changes along with the reasoning behind the changes. You can read the interview HERE. I encourage you to follow that link and read the whole exchange as well as the actual language that was adopted by the Memphis Cotton Exchange earlier this year.


>Changes Coming for the Gin Roster

>The Southeastern Cotton Ginners Gin Roster will have its last October publication this year. The Gin Roster is the listing of all gins and their contact information in our region. It contains a lot of other information regarding cotton organizations on regional and national basis including your delegates and directors to the NCC, Cotton Board and Cotton Inc. It also has helpful information regarding Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act etc.

We honestly don’t know how long this book has been published in October each year but it’s time for a change. We’re moving the publication date to May. There are a number of reasons why we’ve decided to do this but most have to do with fact that a new book has data that is from the previous fiscal year and not the current one and most of the terms for the various organization representatives run on a calendar
year. This makes the “new” roster information only good for a 2-3 months. By moving the publication to the Spring, delegates and directors will be accurate for 6-7 months. It also separates our publication from end of the year fiscal responsibilities our staff is involved in.

To be clear, nothing will be different this Fall. Current Gin Members and Associate Members who are paid for the 2011-2012 fiscal year (soon to be invoiced) will be sent the (brand new) 2011 Gin Roster with gins and Associate Members who paid their 2010-2011 dues listed as members. Those who pay 2011-2012 dues and gins who pay dues for the 2011 crop will receive a new updated roster in May…. i.e. we will be publishing rosters twice for your 2011-2012 dues.

We understand this will be a bit confusing for this year but we didn’t want to make this change without everyone knowing why we’re doing it. If you have any questions or more information, please let us know.


>Immigration Laws Challenged But Has Anything Really Changed?

>In the latest of the ongoing saga that is immigration reform in the Southeast, a Federal Court Judge in Birmingham has postponed implementation of portions of the controversial immigration reform measure that passed the state legislature in June. The bill was originally supposed to go into effect on September 1 but US District Judge, Sharon Blackburn has stopped portions of the law from being implemented until at least September 29. That date could be pushed further back if she has not made a final ruling by that point.

This is just the latest in a string of challenges to similar measures across the country. The sweeping immigration reform bills in many states have provisions that have penalties for harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, makes certain interaction with illegal aliens such as renting or providing housing criminal offenses, and allows local law enforcement to require proof of citizenship when investing other crimes with probable cause.

These provisions and ones like them are the type of things that are being challenged by many groups including the US Dept of Justice in many states. These cases are all working their way through the courts and will undoubtedly end up in the Supreme Court. How that all works out is some weeks or month or maybe years down the road. If I were to guess these will all get pulled together so they can be argued at the same time and sooner will be more likely than later. But does this really matter?

All of the bills that have passed in our region (NC, SC, GA, and AL) have employer requirements for E-Verify. These provisions and others placing additional burdens on the employer have already been challenged, argued and upheld by the courts. In fact, the employer provisions have not even been challenged in the cases in AL or GA. So, without some significant immigration reform on a federal basis, nearly all ginners in the Southeast will have to enroll in and use the E-Verify program at some point in the future. Alabama’s is the first to kick in on April 1, 2012 and GA and NC being the last with most gins getting brought in by July 2013. Please review our earlier blog posts for details on each states’ provisions.


>NC Cotton Crop Mixed Following Irene

>Many of the reports coming out of eastern North Carolina are mixed. Articles such as the one below and calls to some of our gins are giving us similar reports…a mixed bag. Most feel that the tobacco crop has really taken it on the chin but the cotton crop is salvageable but vulnerable.

Low lying areas are having trouble draining which is to be expected with some areas getting more than a foot of rain. Many of our members with many hurricanes under their belts have pretty well agree that no two hurricanes are the same. This one’s kicker was the way it slowed so much as it crossed into the sound letting the wind blow from essentially one direction for hours and hours. Most feel that there will be some losses but most are not willing to put a number on it yet.
With several gins suffering some minor damage and power taking upward of a week to come back in some areas, the ginners we spoke with are focusing on repairs and preparation for the crop rather than guessing at the losses. Most feel that if the cotton was open or cracked, hard lock will be real issue. With a lot of the crop blown down, it really needs sunshine and dry weather. As I am writing this, the area is under the threat of severe weather spawned by another tropical system, Lee.

The article below has a good evaluation of the crop situation in eastern NC including other crops beside cotton. We’ll update as the picture gets clearer.



>DOJ Sues over Alabama Immigration Law

>The US Department of Justice announced yesterday that it is suing the State of Alabama over the recently passed HB 56. The concern laid out in the complaint states that while the US DOJ appreciates the help of states in enforcing US Immigration Law, it will not allow states to pass their own immigration policy or pass laws that conflict with US law.

 “Today’s action makes clear that s etting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.” 

As reason for filing suit,
Attorney General Holder indicated that while the law may be well intentioned to restrict unauthorized workers from migrating to the state, its enforcement may well result in harassment and detention of foreign visitors, legal immigrants and even US citizens who many not be able to immediately produce proof of legally being in the US.

The full press release from the DOJ can be found here.. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/August/11-ag-993.html

This is by far not the end of this story….

In a related issue… The Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association is adding another immigration seminar to the Birmingham sessions. The session is TOMORROW Wednesday, August 3 at 1 PM. Space is running out but still available. Go to the ALFA headlines http://www.alfafarmers.org/headlines/headline.phtml?id=6038 for more information and the flyer.


>Zero Must Remain the Norm – Article

>Zero Must Remain the Norm – Cotton Farming Magzine

We received correspondence from the NCC regarding the accompanying article. The story, in Cotton Farming Magazine, discusses the need for US cotton to maintain low (nearly zero) contamination in our bales.

The correspondence from Dale Thompson at the NCC highlights the end of the next to the last paragraph in which NCC Chairman, Charles Parker, discusses an incident that stemmed from the use of tags with metal grommets placed inside the bagging. Those grommets can become a fire hazard. Another concern is the wiring of tags to the ties on naked bales. These wires can become quite problematic when they aren’t found and removed in the opening room. In addition to the obvious fire hazard if it makes it to the machinery, the wires can become projectiles when the bands are being cut.

Please take some time before we start harvesting this year’s crop to discuss contamination with your producers. NOW is a good time to review your procedures to prevent contamination in your gin. There are many places where contaminants can enter the lint stream in your facilities. The National Cotton Council has a wealth of information that is linked to in the article or found here.

If you have any questions on contamination or contamination prevention, please contact Dale Thompson at the National Cotton Council or your association staff.