Thursday, August 11, 2022

Take A Hard Look At Insurance Costs And Safety Culture At The Gin

Distractions have become “routine” in our daily lives. Our phones go off, we get text messages and we’re bombarded by the never-ending news cycle. Everything seems to be trying to get our attention, and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Things can sneak up on you, and those are the ones that will jump up and bite you.

In the last year or so, we’ve seen huge increases in our costs. As I write this, we’re getting news of the highest inflation in more than a generation… maybe two.

While I’m personally seeing some of the things that increased so much ease down a bit, it’s not common for costs that have gone up this much, this fast, to come down or come down very much. We will likely have to learn to live with some of them.

The Cost Of Insurance

One of the costs that snuck up on many gins in the past year or so is the cost of insurance. Normally, this is a once-a-year expense we get hit with.

The past renewal cycle or two have been more than a bit of sticker shock for many in the ginning industry. Your associations have been aware of this and have brought it to the attention of our memberships. But I think many of us got distracted by the other things going on and have now been hit with the reality that it’s not getting better.

This is a simplified explanation, but insurance companies are going to do what they need to in order to stay in business. They must make money like we do. The companies take our premium and invest it. They pay claims with it, and they expect to have some left over. If losses are low and return on investment is good, you have happy insurance companies. We get stable premiums and competition.

If they have poor investment returns and higher-than-expected cost of claims (read inflation), you have unhappy insurance companies. They may decide to pull out of the market and/or significantly increase rates. This is where we are today.

Your ginners associations and the National Cotton Ginners’ Association have been concerned about this for some time. We need healthy insurers and competition, but we really can only help one side of the insurance problem…losses. NCGA has put together a list of questions to ask yourself, so you can evaluate if you’re a “best in class” risk (Contact your association about how to get this questionnaire).

Gin Losses And Safety Culture

Each year, it seems that our industry suffers a significant loss or two somewhere in the country. Most are fire related. Fire is an issue in a gin. Fires while ginning are not fun but are manageable.

When the fire gets outside the gin, we have problems…big ones. Module fires, seed house fires and trash fires are all issues that have resulted in very large losses. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a lot of the things on the NCGA questionnaire are fire related.

One thing that may surprise you is the safety culture in general. Do you have rules and programs in place for personnel safety? The insurance companies see lower losses where the culture of the company is loss conscious. Have a good safety culture, be diligent about module yard separation and bale groupings in the warehouse.

Being rigorous on writing rules and enforcing them and documenting your safety program — among other things — show an attitude and culture of safety. These are the gins that tend to have lower losses annually.

If we can do the things that reduce losses and make our industry more insurable, we’ll see more competition. We’ll see prices stabilize and won’t get surprised (shocked) the next time we see an insurance renewal.

Dusty Findley, CEO of the Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, contributed this article. Contact him at 706-344-1212 or dusty@southern-southeastern.org.
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TCGA Summer Interns Weigh In

For many years, the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association has provided an opportunity for college students to experience the cotton ginning industry firsthand through its summer intern program.

For 2022, two young people are onboard. This year’s interns are Julia New from Cypress, Texas, and Josh Handley, who hails from Fredericksburg, Texas. Both interns attend Texas A&M University. New is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in agribusiness, and Handley is studying biological and agricultural engineering.

In the following narrative that New and Handley provided in June, they talk about their experiences in this year’s program.

Julia New

“As I stepped into my first week as an intern at the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association office in Round Rock, Texas, I was able to observe just how much goes into running an association. I was introduced to the understanding of databases, Excel and website building.

“One of my first major projects I helped with was our safety seminars in Weslaco, Corpus Christi and El Campo. I was able to watch the process of making sure people were registered and that they were accounted for in our system once we had received the attendance sheet. I then redesigned our completion certificate and learned how to use mail merge to efficiently print and mail all the certifications to those who had attended.

“For the TCGA office, this summer has been full of preparation for the summer meeting. Most of the meeting was planned before I arrived in Round Rock; however, I have been able to help with the little details. This has included calling guests to confirm they will be in attendance, redesigning our meeting program and reaching out to this year’s sponsors. The amount of preparation and teamwork I have witnessed in just the past two weeks I have been here has been truly impressive.

“For the rest of the summer, I have been assigned the project of redesigning The Ginnery’s look as well as the TCGA website. I have been working on new ideas, and I am very excited to see what I can do for this great group.

“I am enjoying my time here and am so grateful for the position I have been given. Being an intern at TCGA has allowed me to see the business side of agriculture in a way that I haven’t before. The biggest thank you goes out to the TCGA staff for welcoming me into their office and allowing me to learn more about this association.”

Josh Handley

“For the first half of my TCGA internship, I have been working at Central Rolling Plains Co-op in Roscoe, Texas. I have had the pleasure of working for Larry Black, the gin manager here at CRP, as well as Marcial Saenz, the gin superintendent. I have spent most of my time out at the gin helping maintenance the equipment for the upcoming ginning season.

“I started by replacing all of the spikes on the module feeder and removing a valve from the gin stand. I then became an extra hand for whatever needed to be done from then on.

“I really enjoyed the trips up to Lubbock where I was able to tour Samuel Jackson, BC Supply and PYCO. Samuel Jackson and BC Supply are cotton gin machinery manufacturing companies, while PYCO is one of the nation’s largest cottonseed oil mills.

“I have really enjoyed my time here in Roscoe, but I am also very excited to spend the second half of this internship at United AG Co-op in El Campo, Texas.

“United AG is expected to be ginning while I am there, and I cannot wait to work at the gin while it is running. I will finally be able to see all of the machinery I have been working on in action. Thank you, Mr. Aaron Nelsen and the rest of the TCGA staff, for this amazing internship opportunity.”

TCGA provided this information. Please visit www.tcga.org that New redesigned this summer to check out its fresh look.

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