Saturday, May 18, 2024

NEW I-9 Published

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services has announced the development of a new I-9 Employment Eligibility Form. All new hires or re-hires after Nov. 1, 2023, must use this form.

The latest form is now only one page and is expected to be simpler for both employers and employees. There are also new instructions for the new form and the ability to use it with E-Verify if you have “remote” employees. While this last bit isn’t necessarily the most important for cotton gins, we wanted to make you aware of it just in case.

The updated I-9 form can be found by going to www.uscis.gov/i-9. Please follow that link to download the form, instructions and M-274 Handbook. The new form is for new hires, re-hires and re-verification. The re-verification process is supposed to be clearer and easier to understand, which and when certain documents need to be re-verified.

More information on the new form can be found at the I-9 Central page. The M-274 Manual is longer and has specific instructions for H-2A employers and continues to contain language that seasonal workers are considered continued employment. This is only if the employee leaves solely because the work ran out and came back when the work returned. Otherwise, you need to file a new I-9 or use the re-verification section, Supplement B (Formerly Section 3).

The Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association provided this information.
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TCGA Summer Interns Wrap Up Final Reports

Since August, we have followed the experiences of the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association’s two summer interns — Josiah Keck and Riley Grider — through their reports to TCGA.

Josiah Keck

       During my last weeks at Smith Gin Co-op in Odem, Texas, I learned a lot from Tyler Cross. Cross has also been teaching me where the gin makes and loses money. The cotton gin profits off the time a farmer’s cotton takes to be ginned. The gin also makes money off the seed, trash and mote bales.

Where the gin loses the most money is in downtime. Downtime is when the cotton gin is not running and something breaks and must be fixed before starting back up. Every hour of downtime that goes by, it can cost the gin upwards of $1,000.

I have also had the chance to see how module trucks pick up and deliver modules to our gin. Smith Gin Co-op started ginning cotton on Aug. 1. I was amazed by all the moving parts that clean and move cotton from the module feeder to the press, seeing every machine clean cotton, extracting the seed, and finally watching the hydraulic press make a bale.

I would like to thank Tyler Cross for teaching me about the management of a cotton gin. I would also like to thank Aaron Nelsen and TCGA for this amazing internship.

Riley Grider

During my final weeks as a TCGA intern at Edcot Coop in Odem, I worked alongside some of the best ginners I have met. After walking through gins all over Texas, I finally had the opportunity to see cotton flow through a gin. From starting up to ginning cotton, I learned that choke-ups and problems are inevitable, and that your gin efficiency depends on how good your crew is.

Working alongside Hector and Jesus Cruz, I was taught how to unchoke the gin, replace motors and change bearings. Along with this, I learned basic troubleshooting skills and managerial qualities while working with Daniel Luehrs in the office. I cannot stress how welcoming everybody was in South Texas — from letting me ride in pickers/strippers, picking up cotton in a module truck, and watching the entire ginning process firsthand, my experience was more than I could have imagined.

Overall, I would like to thank everyone involved in the process, from Aaron Nelsen who helped me at the TCGA offices to Daniel Luehrs and the board at Edcot Coop, my experience was anything but lackluster. I’d like to thank all the ginners who taught me and the producers who made it all happen. This was a great experience that opened many doors along the way.

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News From The Texas Cotton Gin Museum

Museum Director Steph Jarvis recently shared some news aboout the Texas Cotton Gin Museum in Burton, Texas. It is the oldest operating cotton gin in the United States. Here is what Jarvis had to report:

Introducing Nick And Stormee

2023 ushered in changes for all of us, and the Texas Cotton Gin Museum is no exception! This year saw the arrival of not one, but two new employees — Nick Hankins and Stormee Smoot! They were both thrilled to join our team this past June. The role of program’s coordinator has traditionally been undertaken by an individual; however, it was necessary to split part of the full-time position into two part-time roles, which means double the fun!

You’ll see Nick working on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday mornings. Stormee is here on Thursday afternoons, Fridays and Saturdays. Having two part-time employees means more flexibility, and it allows both of their individual strengths to shine. You may have already met them, but if you haven’t, come on by and say hi!

Where Do We Get Our Cotton?

In January 2023, TCGM received an awesome donation of over 1,600 pounds of seed cotton (that included four different varieties) thanks to the Cotton Improvement Lab at Texas A&M University. A large amount of the cotton was then ginned at the 34th annual Burton Cotton Gin Festival on April 15 and made two bales. For more information on the origin of the cotton, we spoke with Marshall Tolleson, a Texas A&M research specialist:

“The seed cotton we donated was from one of our high- quality fiber development projects,” he said. “These lines are being tested for their ability to spin superior yarns on different spinning technologies including ring and vortex frames. It takes around 10 years for a new variety to be developed from the initial cross to the agronomic evaluation tests that yielded the cotton we donated. These lines in particular are the result of 30 years of research by Texas A&M. The bales of cotton that the museum ginned are a reflection of the cotton-growing heritage of the region but are filled with fibers bred for the future.”

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