We have received quite a few phone calls with members asking about how cotton gins fit into the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Guidance”. We believe that cotton gins fit into the definition of critical infrastructure in several ways. In general, we are a key link in the production of agricultural products, which are covered by the rule. More specifically, cottonseed is an animal food ingredient, which is specifically covered. In addition, employees engaged in the manufacture or maintenance of this essential equipment are covered. We read this to mean that the gin and the gin repair are covered by this rule. Some of our members have asked about a letter for their employees to carry when commuting to work. This letter is likely not needed in many areas of the state, but if you think you are in an area where a letter is needed, we have developed a sample letter. Be sure to put this on your letterhead, and also fill in all the blanks on the letter before printing the letter. Here is a link to our Generic Letter for cotton gins to use if needed. If you would like to see the entire guidance document, click here for that document.
While essential businesses are required to remain in operation, it is important for you to implement safety measures for your workers and your operations. Some farm stores, for example, have implemented programs where producers call in their orders and remain in their vehicles while staff load the vehicles. Employees working in the gin should practice “social distancing” by keeping a six foot distance between workers. While it is critical that we maintain shipments of products and that we repair our facilities for the upcoming harvest season, we also need to be sure that we don’t set up a situation where the Coronavirus is able to spread through our workforce. In previous alerts, we have provided links for the required workplace posters needed while operating during this time. In case you missed them, here are the links to these posters again:
Please give your association a call if you have questions regarding these issues, and please keep an eye on your email for future updates.