What is in this article?:
- Farmer in Louisiana's Morganza spillway reflects on 2011 floods, challenges.
- George Lacour 2012 president of Southern Cotton Ginners Association.
George Lacour, Morganza, La., is the president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.
There are numerous legislative and regulatory issues Lacour has opinions on, but two jump out: labor and environment.
“As for the environment, the biggest factor is dust. Gins are dusty and they’re situated in rural America, where dust is normal. … Too many environmental regulations will put us straight out of business. I’m not sure how you can possibly make a cotton gin dust-free. It’s (endemic to the business) and the countryside. Drive down the road and if it hasn’t just rained there will be a rooster tail of dust behind the pick-up.”
On the labor side, the onerous requirements regarding the hiring of a migrant workforce “are very difficult. The hurdles we jump to keep migrant labor are getting taller and taller.
“The E-Verify system really puts a burden on the employer. I’m just trying to find someone reliable, who will show up on time and is willing to work. I want to pay them a just wage. A good quality worker makes for a good safety program. But we can’t even get anyone to show up.”
And if the gin does find a migrant worker willing to sweat, “the government comes back and says ‘your documentation is faulty, the paperwork isn’t just right. He can’t work there.’
“I’m afraid it’s going to get worse in the Mid-South. You can’t just pick up a good press man off the street. Nowadays, if you find a good janitor, you’re lucky.”
On the new laws passed in the Southeast to deal with illegal aliens, Lacour doesn’t believe “the majority of people realize what agriculture is facing. They don’t realize the challenges facing those wanting to feed and clothe them. They don’t seem to believe that a few politicians are so naïve.
“What this has proved is it only takes a few people to stand up and complain and (the resulting legislation) doesn’t represent the majority. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And without cotton ginners in the South, there wouldn’t be any grease.”