Through involvement and relationship-building we engage
with our federal legislators and administrators to craft legislation and rules that will help (not hinder) our members’
businesses and livelihoods. That is the gist of it. Our
country’s public affairs however are construed in a various
number of ways, largely based on the ever-changing political environment. What that tends to creates is a vacuum
in many cases of disgust, distaste and a genuine dislike for
most anything to do with politics, politicians, and public
policy. We agree with you wholeheartedly!
However, the job of lobbying for and creating good public
policy to meet the needs of our members, to include a decrease in burdensome regulations, continues to move forward no matter what condition or position that the political
arena may be settled into yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Building those relationships, educating those legislators,
and looking forward is vital to our public affairs and government relations program.
The areas of involvement that the National Watermelon
Association is engaged in are vast, as well as timely and
opportune when legislation and debate do arise. Add to
that our educational component of new laws and requirements has taken shape to guide our members through the
myriad of legislation, rules and regulations. Here is a
sampling of the Hot Topics this year:
A Public Policy
Forum on FB
For all of our friends that are on Facebook, we have created a Public Policy Forum page that is ‘by invitation’
only. This page is geared to provide key insights and news
mainly about the Presidential election, the candidates, their
platforms, and how their positions may affect our business. Other federal campaign or election news may also be
The postings on this page are intended to be bipartisan,
straight-forward, and unedited from the sources that we
capture them. The followers of this private Facebook
page deserve to know - - and when they sign up indirectly
indicate that they too want to know - - what the larger
issues are related to the Presidential campaigns, debates,
positions and election. Call it the Good, the Bad, and the
Ugly - - sort of sounds like what Hillary vs. Trump may be
later this summer!
If you are on Facebook, sign up for this page, and become
aware of their platforms, their positions, and their intentions as they relate to all of the things that can and will
affect our lives. We’ll even throw in a few cartoons and
videos periodically to keep us all smiling.
A Day of
‘A Day of Watermelon’ is an effort to connect our
federal representatives with our members in their home
state, congressional district, city or town, and on their
own turf - - the shed or farm. We created a comprehensive toolkit that will help a member to schedule, invite,
plan, and implement a day with their representative.
With a strong majority of our U.S. Congress being
NEW to Washington, it is incumbent on us to educate
them about us: What do we do each day? What do
we need from Washington to do that job better? More
efficiently? With less regulations? With less govern-
ment intervention? What does Washington need to do
to encourage farmers and the younger generations to
become farmers? Lobbying is not a spectator sport - -
We should all be involved at least at the local level.
The bottom line is very simple ….. If we do not
educate them (tell them) what we need, or do not,
then how can we expect them to do it? You deserve
representation in Washington that understands your
needs in business, and they should want to know.
Take the step to invite them to your place - - talk with
them - - show them around - - make a new friend in
the process. The future can be bright, if we all help
out and do our parts.
A Day of Watermelon is not a program for every one
of our members. We all have different roles within the
industry. Yet this program is one that is FOR ALL.
At periodic times throughout the legislative calendar,
we have those times when a legislative action, or public
comment on a rule, or other action requires us to contact
our U.S. Congress (or the Federal Register) to vote this
way or that way, or re-write a rule to better reflect what
will make sense for the business.
When those times arise, you (and every other member)
can get involved by calling, emailing, writing, or tweeting your legislator directly. They hear the communications loud and clear, and in many cases those communications have a strong bearing on how the legislator will
vote. Please join us, when those times arise.
The last immigration bill that became law was in 1986,
signed by then president Ronald Reagan. Since that
time, immigration in our country has taken on an entirely
new meaning with both sides of the debate digging in
deep with their needs, values, and deepening the political
divide that surrounds this needed policy.
Creating a sound and viable (and legal) workforce for Agriculture is Job #1: This is a must have from our federal
legislators, and it should be their first and foremost priority - - not a political football. Without a viable workforce,
literally nothing in the business matters. Not food safety,
not trucking, not varieties, not suppliers, not anything.
Labor is the key to it all. A legal, viable workforce is
what matters. Without it, there is no planting, no growing, no harvesting, no packing, no shipping, NO FOOD!
Take notice of this issue, and make it a top priority of
yours. Every member that is involved in the watermelon
business is affected by this issue either directly or indirectly. Let’s push this envelope more than we ever have
before right after the election and get it done – Finally!
Let’s say that you are in full speed ahead mode harvesting,
packing and shipping watermelons, and one of the government
agencies shows up to ask questions, inspect records, interview
you and your employees, etc. It may be the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS), or Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), or the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL),
or the Wage & Hour Division from your own state.
If and when they visit your business, they may bring up
wage rates, hours worked per day, overtime pay, hiring
documentation, employer-employee relationships, and
more. As an employer of migrant workers (or hiring a
labor contractor), employers have to meet requirements
under two different laws:
• Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
• Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
What rights do you have if they arrive unannounced? The
answer is ….. you do have rights. But first, contact
your attorney if
should occur on
yourself with the
documents and legal
advice that is offered at
Do you directly employ migrant workers regularly or for a
short period of time, or do you hire a third party company
that provides the workers to your business? If you hire a
third party company (sometimes known as a labor contractor), do you know that you may have as much responsibility for those workers as the third party company does?
This development is commonly referred to as ‘Joint Employment’.
Our website has some key information available to you
that specifically discusses joint employment, to include:
• Your Liability
• The Ruling
• Employment Relationship under FLSA
• AG Employers under FLSA
• Independent Contractors
• New Minimum Wage Rates
For additional information, or counsel, you are recommended to contact your attorney for legal advice. All
growers and packers/shippers should be well informed
about the laws.