Improving Watermelon Plant Establishment and Resistance to Soil Borne Diseases

One of the watermelon research projects conducted primarily through funding from the National Watermelon Association has been completed by Matthew Cutulle at Clemson University.  The study, ‘Improving Watermelon Plant Establishment and Resistance to Soil Borne Diseases’, had two primary objectives:

  1. Determine if watermelon variety and SC-27 inoculation influences plant vigor and stem lengths.
  2. Determine if watermelon variety and SC-27 inoculation influence Fusarium oxusporum(FON) Race 1 and Race 2.

Click HERE to review the findings of the project.    


2020 Convention Mobile App is Available Now!

We are excited to announce the mobile app for the 2020 National Watermelon Association convention at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. The all new mobile app has everything you need for our upcoming convention. 
On the app you can:
- Register for convention and outside events
- Reserve your hotel room
- Check out the Agenda
- View our sponsors, speakers and exhibitors
- Check out the maps in the agenda that has important locations pin pointed
- View our Honorees and Convention Dedication
- View our Watermelon Queens

Make sure to download the app today!

The Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a rule to “modernize and improve” the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Certification Program

The Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a rule to “modernize and improve” the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Certification Program.  A comparison grid of current rules to the proposed changes is attached for your review.  The reforms, which do not require Congressional action, would do the following:

  • Streamline the H-2A application process by mandating electronic filing of job orders and applications with the use of digital signatures
  • Provide employers with and the option of staggering the entry of H-2A workers on a single application
  • Strengthen protections for U.S. and foreign workers by enhancing standards  applicable to rental housing and public accommodations
  • Strengthen surety bond requirements
  • Expand the department’s authority to use enforcement tools like program debarment for substantial violations of program rules
  • Update the methods us
  • ed to determine the Adverse Effect Wage Rates and prevailing wages to ensure U.S. workers similarly employed are not adversely impacted
  • Expand access to the H-2A program by revising the definition of agricultural labor or services to include employers engaged in reforestation and pine straw activities

According to a DOL news release, 

“Furthering the agenda to help America’s farmers, the Department of Labor (the Department), Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division, is posting online a Notice of Proposed Rule-making (NPRM) to solicit public comment on proposed changes to improve the H-2A temporary agricultural labor certification program. These proposed changes would modernize the department’s H-2A regulations in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns and enhances employer access to a legal source of agricultural labor, while maintaining the program’s protections for the U.S. workforce and enhancing enforcement against fraud and abuse."

Comments Close SEPT 24, 2019


Effective October 15, 2019, the final rule on public charge of inadmissibility will go into effect. 

Since 1996, federal laws have stated that foreign nationals generally must be self-sufficient. This final rule, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, provides guidance provides guidance on how to determine if someone applying for admission or adjustment of status is likely at any time to become a public charge.  The rule will open up the government’s determination of self-sufficiency (or the lack thereof), and can reach well into the agriculture sector given the reliance on a workforce which is predominantly foreign-born and has relatively lower educational attainment than may be the case elsewhere in the economy.  How this will shake out is yet to be seen.  CLICK HERE to read through an interesting report on the rule and its potential implications.


Proposed Changes to Hours-of-Service Released by FMCSA

Late yesterday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released the widely anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Hours of Service as they relate to the Electronic Logging Device Rule. 

The National Watermelon Association has been working in cooperation with a number of other produce groups.  We would like to recognize and thank the leaders of Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association - Paul Orsenigo (Chairman) and Mike Joyner (President & CEO) – who began this effort with FMCSA to streamline the Hours-of-Service rules to apply more effectively to agriculture, and in particular fresh fruits and vegetables.  

In the joint petition that was submitted to FMCSA earlier this year, we requested a number of key changes to the rules.  Following is a recap of what we asked for:  

  1. Add an allowance for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting this rest time against their HOS allotments.
  2. Exclude loading and unloading times from the 14-hour on-duty HOS calculations.
  3. Allow drivers to complete their trip, regardless of HOS requirements, if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point (if delivery takes place on any day beyond the original departure work period).

In these new proposed rules, we received some of the allowances that we requested.  They include a more flexible split sleeper berth option and the ability to pause the driver’s ELD for a break of 30-minutes or up to 3 hours at any time during his or her day.  The summary is posted here:

Summary of Hours of Service Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

  1. Pause the ELD for 30 Minutes and Up to a 3 Hour Break:
    1. Current Rule: Not an option
    2. Proposed Rule: Pause the 14 hour on-duty clock for 30 minutes up to 3 hours consecutively, as long as those hours are taken as off-duty
    3. Provision requires 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift
  1. Split Sleeper Berth:
    1. Current Rule: 10/0 split and 8/2 split options
    2. Proposed Rule: Adds a 7/3 split option
  1. 30 Minute Rest Break:
    1. Current Rule: 30 minute break required per 8 hours of on-duty time; taken either off-duty or sleeper berth
    2. Proposed Rule: 30 minute break required per 8 hours of driving time; taken off-duty OR on-duty not driving. Time can be used for filling up gas, restroom, eating, etc.
  1. Short Haul Exemption:
    1. Current Rule: Drivers are exempt from logging in an ELD for 12 hours of on-duty time within a 100 air-mile radius of the source
    2. Proposed Rule: Exempt from logging in an ELD for 14 hours on-duty time within a 150 air-mile radius of the source

                                                               i.      Brings the short haul exemption in line with the current agricultural exemption

  1. Adverse Driving Conditions:
    1. Current Rule: 2 hours extra driving time allowed because of adverse conditions does not extend your 14 hour working day
    2. Proposed Rule: Working day would extend to 16 hours following adverse conditions

The FMCSA full news release (129 pages) can be found online here or the printable PDF here.

Next Steps:

The joint group of produce groups (led by FFVA) will schedule a conference call with FMCSA leadership to further clarify these proposed rule changes and provide the chance to ask questions of the administration.  Following that call, we will provide you with our recommended comments which you may (if you choose) submit to the public record during the 45-day comment period. 

The proposed rules are just that – proposed.  Although the changes have gone through a vetting process within the Administration, they are proposed until such time that the public has had the opportunity to comment, those comments have been taken into consideration, and a final rule is vetted and released.  We are still a ways from seeing any of this become final and applied to the current day trucking rules.  However, we are getting closer.  More will come shortly.  Stay posted.
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