The new season is off and running to a slow start… with a lot of “headaches” of getting started – fruit and vegetable maturity, weather, and an uncertain labor pool. Looks just like last year without the hurricanes…….

The Citrus Canker Eradication Program continues with new training requirements and forms that need to be completed before you start harvesting. The CCEP now requires harvesters, caretakers and handlers of citrus to have all their vehicles and equipment registered and marked with a decal from CCEP. Your company must also have a person within the organization trained and certified as a CCEP Decontamination Trainer. We have included a mailing from the Florida Department of Agriculture that lists the upcoming training dates and times across central Florida – it also lists a phone number you can call for additional dates or site specific training. Please see their web site for forms and information in both English and Spanish: www.doacs.state.fl.us/canker/index.htm and remember they will be enforcing all the rules this season!

The minimum wage will change for the State of Florida again this coming January 1st! Florida’s minimum wage will increase to $6.40 an hour on January 1, 2006, a 25 cent an hour increase to match inflation as required by an initiative passed last year. The state’s minimum wage went up to $6.15 an hour in May because of a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004. The amendment tied the state’s minimum wage to inflation, requiring an adjustment each year. The $6.40 rate will start January 1, 2006. For workers whose tips are counted as part of their wage, the minimum will go from the current $3.13 an hour to $3.38 an hour on January 1st, plus the worker’s tips. Please remember to change you Worker Information – Terms and Conditions of Employment forms to comply with this change in January!

We know you think we sound like a broken record… but the Department of Labor and D.B.P.R. investigators continue to find unregistered housing. Please remember that ANY association you have with where migrant or seasonal agricultural workers live requires that you have those premises inspected and registered prior to their occupancy. The Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Worker (MSPA) Act states… “A farm labor contractor, agricultural employer, agricultural association or any other person is in ‘control’ of a housing facility or real property, regardless of the location of such facility, if said person is in charge of or has the power or authority to oversee, manage, superintend or administer the housing facility or real property either personally or through an authorized agent or employee, irrespective of whether compensation is paid for engaging in any of the aforesaid capacities.” The enforcement officials interpret “control” very liberally – so be fore-warned! (See 29 CFR 500, sections .130 -.135)

A new season means time to review safety with your crew leaders, supervisors, and drivers! The new season brings a great opportunity to review with your key personnel your safety policies and concerns to make sure they have all the “tools” necessary to help you run a safe operation. Our loss control staff has hand-out materials, check lists, vehicle inspection forms, etc., to help with any safety concern for your operation – from training to company policies. Please don’t hesitate to call our loss control staff with your requests or concerns. We are here to help you maintain a safe work place for your employees.

We would appreciate any ideas for topics, comments on our information, and any questions you may have! Please call us at (800)242-7898 or e-mail us at wwurth@chappinc.com . Remember: work safely- better ‘dead sure’ than ‘sure dead!