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All aboard!  The NWA Convention Train is Pulling out of the Station.  Climb Aboard

Nashville ’22 is Full Speed Ahead.  Climb Aboard! We’ve come down to crunch time.  Have you reserved your room and registered for the NWA’s National Watermelon Convention in Nashville?  It is upon us - - the time to reunite; renew; rejuvenate; and recapture the loving spirit that our Annual Watermelon Family Reunion creates year after year.

This time around we will kick it off with a Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening featuring one of Nashville’s finest songwriters – Dave Pahanish, followed by a separate (ticketed) event - - a Political Action Committee Fundraiser with headliner John Rich (Big & Rich) & his band.  You can secure your PAC event tickets by calling the NWA office.

On Thursday there are key sessions looking at the significant changes to food safety audits presented by our friends from QIMA/WQS.  Another session will focus on the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) and how they market watermelons to make a positive difference in your business.  You can sit in on the NWA’s Grade Standards Committee and learn what they are working on with the USDA to modernize watermelon grade standards, including the photo library that is widely used by quality inspectors. 

At the opening reception you will be entertained by Lewis Brice, (Lee’s brother) – a very talented singer/songwriter, followed by our headliner - Country Music Superstar Eddie Montgomery & the Montgomery Gentry band.  Music will carry us throughout the weekend with a young up-and-coming singer songwriter – Jordan Barry on Saturday evening, followed by some beautiful music from a duo called Towne on Sunday morning.  

The agenda from start to finish is full of opportunities.  Networking will happen throughout the four days of education, entertainment, and fellowship.  Take a look at our full agenda.
After losing the opportunity to meet in 2021, this reunion (national convention) will allow us to renew, rejuvenate and smile ‘together’.  Make your plans today, and we’ll see you in Nashville in a little over 3 weeks.  Music City USA awaits!         

 

 

 

Music City Awaits our Triumphant Return in ‘22

We have Great News to share with you.  From February 21-27, 2022, we will see a resurgence of our Watermelon Family as we reunite for the National Watermelon Association Convention & Annual meeting, hosted at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. While our event in 2021 was cancelled due to COVID-19, we are excited that the convention will return to Music City as our hosts, and the beautiful Sheraton Grand as our home away from home.  Due to vaccine mandates and other COVID-related concerns, a city and venue change was necessary, and Nashville will welcome us with arms wide open.

Four years ago, the Sheraton Grand completed a $35 million renovation of the 28-floor hotel, and placing it in the most elite classification as one of only five Sheraton Grands in the U.S.  We will be the only group meeting in-house, and it is a wonderful venue for us to experience the national convention as you have come to expect.  Take a look:  https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-photos/bnand-sheraton-grand-nashville-downtown/.   
  


To put the topping on the cake, two of Nashville’s most successful country music bands will headline key events.  First, John Rich (Big & Rich) & his band will headline our first-ever Political Action Committee Dinner & Fundraiser on Wednesday evening.  Headlining the opening night dinner events on Thursday will be Eddie Montgomery & the Montgomery Gentry band.  Nashville will turn out to welcome us back to Music City like never before.     

Today, we share with you the convention agenda, registration forms, hotel reservations, sponsorship opportunities, load donor & contributor ideas, exhibit reservations, advertising offers, national queen competition, a NEW farmer recognition program, breaking news about the blockbuster headliners that will entertain you at nationals, and last but certainly not least – our membership program for your friends and colleagues in the industry.  All of this information is posted on the Convention Page of our website, www.watermelon.ag. Take a look, and keep visiting for updates. 
Next month you will learn about our speaker lineup, exhibitors and more as we work to finalize many of the details, so stay tuned to The Weekly Rind and our website (www.watermelon.ag for more details as they break.   
 
NWA members will receive a significant discount off the convention registration fees, and the event also provides non-members with a unique “look under the hood” of the battles NWA wages in Congress and with federal agencies.  This is a must-attend event for everyone in the Watermelon Industry! The NWA’s mission is to ‘Shape the Watermelon Industry for Future Generations’.  Join us in Nashville and see for yourself how we do that.  We’d love to have you join us.   
 
 

 

DOL proposes rule modifying AEWR methodology for H-2A wages


The U.S. Dept. of Labor is set to modify the methodology used to determine the hourly Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWR) for the H-2A program. According to the Federal Register notice, the proposed changes will “better enable the department” to ensure the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages of similarly employed workers in the United States. What this means is:
 
    •    For field and livestock worker occupations, which represent most agricultural jobs, the proposed rule continues to use the average annual hourly wage for field and livestock workers (combined) for the state or region, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey (FLS).
    •    For all other agricultural jobs, which are not adequately represented or reported by the current FLS data, the department proposes to set the AEWRs using the statewide or national average annual hourly wages for the occupational classification reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey (OEWS) program.
    •    Where the job opportunity covers more than one occupational classification, the department proposes to set the AEWRs based on the highest wage for the applicable occupations.
 
The DOL’s proposal to determine occupation-specific AEWRs has also been referred to as disaggregation.  This approach, which affects those occupations not covered by the field and livestock worker (combined) category, would result in a higher adverse effect wage rate for those in supervisory, construction, equipment operation, truck driving, and other occupations.
 
The next step is to get as many people as possible to submit comments regarding the proposed rule.  Interested parties and stakeholders are invited to submit written comments by Jan. 31, 2022.  This may be our one chance to suggest changes to the current process.


 

OSHA Releases Federal Vaccine Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Division has created the federal rule that outline how affected employers can help workers and themselves to understand the requirements and purpose of OSHA’s new Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccination and Testing.  A YouTube video is also available that explains the overarching elements of the rule.

OSHA has posted information regarding the ETS on their site. A few highlights of the rule are:
    •    December 5, 2021 = deadline to have policy in place IF your company will require a vaccine and NOT offer weekly testing as an option
    •    January 4, 2022 = deadline to have policy in place to either choose vaccination or choose weekly testing PLUS wearing a mask at all times while working
    •    This mandate preempts (supersedes) any and all State & Local laws.
    •    The mandate applies to all employers with 100 or more employees.  Everyone working for the company while the ETS is in effect counts as an employee. This includes management, seasonal, temporary and/or part-time personnel.
    •    Employers must provide information on their company vaccination mandate policy to all employees.
    •    Employers do not have to pay for the weekly testing, although they can choose to do so (under this ETS).
    ◦    Exemptions: Employers may be required to pay for testing if required by other laws, regulations, such as collective bargaining or health program agreements.
    •    Employers must determine and confirm the vaccination status of each employee.
    ◦    Failure by employee to provide “acceptable proof” - treat employee as unvaccinated.
    ◦    Employers required to preserve documentation/evidence of acceptable proof of vaccination & roster of vaccination-status of all employees.
    ◦    Proof of vaccination, rosters, and weekly test results must be preserved & maintained by employers for review by health authorities as long as the ETS is in effect.
    •    Testing Requirements for unvaccinated workers.
    ◦    Must be tested at least 1x every 7 days.
    ◦    Must provide test results documentation to employer (in compliance with the above requirement).
    ◦    Must be removed from the workplace if not providing timely test result documentation.
    •    EXEMPTION: workers who work exclusively (100%) outdoors 


Read more

 
Welcome Back to Music City – ‘22
Pictures of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee

 

 

 
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