By Jayci Cave
The Grower Services Department at PCCA is responsible for helping members make sure that they have all the correct paperwork and information on file before it is time to market the cotton. This includes overseeing Pool Sign In/Sign Out each year. They also collect pool marketing agreements for all members who choose to market their cotton in the pool. Members who market their cotton on The Seam must sign membership agreements.
During the summer, eligibility consumes a large portion of staff time. Each gin must work on their members’ eligibility before any cotton is delivered. This requires members to have everything signed correctly through the Farm Services Agency with correct farm numbers and payees. Grower Services will help the gins to know what issues, if any, need to be resolved.
The department also spends a substantial amount of time troubleshooting issues over the phone. This could be anything from problems with eligibility to issues with the Gin Services system to questions about checks or government tax forms.
“We handle all the gin calls with respect to the invoicing and marketing of the cotton,” says Vicki Dorris, PCCA’s General Counsel and Director of Grower Services. “If you come here during the season, you are unlikely to find someone who is not on the phone. During the season, we spend 90 percent of our day either receiving phone calls or calling someone back.”
The Information Systems (IS) Department at PCCA has facilitated the process by making it possible for Grower Services to help gin personnel from a mobile device. Dorris says this allows staff to help the gins during evenings and on weekends without having to be in the office. She also says having an in-house IS department helps her department be able to resolve any issues in a timely manner. Grower Services helps facilitate the sale of members’ cotton on The Seam. If any problems arise, The Seam will contact Grower Services for help resolving the issue.
“We are the gateway between The Seam and the gins. The gins put the cotton on The Seam through our system,” says Dorris. “If The Seam has issues, they call us.”
After the cotton is invoiced, Grower Services is responsible for printing and delivering the checks for all cotton marketed through The Seam and the pool. Each morning, checks are printed and separated by gin code to be delivered to the specific gin as opposed to sending them to each individual member.
They also are in charge of handling and sending out progress payments for both of PCCA’s marketing pools. Progress payments have to be run manually in the system. In addition to progress payments, Grower Services handles all PCCA dividends for the pool, marketing and warehouse divisions as well as stock retirements. These checks go directly to the members. If a member wants to defer a check for tax reasons, this department is responsible for holding the checks until they can be released, normally on New Year’s Day. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the department distributed 12,938 dividend checks, 15,832 retirement checks and 4,934 base capital retirement checks.
“For PCCA members, all the money goes through our department,” Dorris says. “Probably the only other department that handles this amount of money is the Accounting Department.”
Along with distributing checks, the department is responsible for distributing 1099 PATRs to every member who received a dividend check from PCCA. Grower Services also distributes section 199 deduction notices to producers. This is an income tax deduction they get for marketing their cotton through the cooperative. Dealing with issues regarding bankruptcy and backup withholding also are the responsibility of Grower Services. From April to June, staff spends time working with gin personnel on audits, specifically the dividend audit and the pool audit to resolve any issues.
With the new farm bill and the current cotton market, Grower Services also handles issues regarding Loan Deficiency Payments and Adjusted Gross Income. Both of these could affect how PCCA members market their cotton and receive their checks.
One of Gin Bookkeeping’s (GBK) major tasks includes supporting multiple PCCA systems such as the gin accounting system and the gin services system. The GBK system is one of the services PCCA offers to gins. Essentially, it is a full-service accounting program which is able to process accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, payroll, fuel program, and financial reporting. As a part of supporting these systems, employees in the Gin Bookkeeping Department are available to assist the gins in using this software and to train new gin employees as they are hired.
On a weekly basis, the four employees in the Gin Bookkeeping Department talk to approximately 50 or 60 different gins to help them with various issues. White says they spend a lot of time training employees and attempting to keep up with changes in the technology.
“Keeping up with technology is a constant effort because everything changes so fast,” White says. “Once you get a new system in place and everyone trained, it seems there is a new system out there.”
During the season, scale ticket assistance and supporting module tracking and scale capture keep staff busy. Scale capture is gin software for call-in, ginning list, turnout adjustment, and scale ticket upload, while module tracking allows the gin personnel to track the modules from field to ginning.
Like Grower Services, Gin Bookkeeping also will help conduct audits in the summer. However, they help the gins get all the information required for their gin audit, and this requires a lot of work in the accounting system.
“We will help them get ready for their yearly audit,” White says. “After they are audited, hopefully they made a profit and will need to issue gin dividends. So, one of the services we provide to the gin is printing those checks and reports for them.”
Along with printing the dividend checks, Gin Bookkeeping will print the 1099 PATR form that will come with them from the gin at the end of the year. They also print W-2 forms from payroll for every gin that uses the GBK system.
“We work with our Accounting Department,” White says, “because we bill the gins annually for our products.” After harvest, Gin Bookkeeping works with PCCA’s Accounting Department to bill the gin for using the GBK system, the scale ticket program, scale capture, and module tracking.
“We stay valuable to our members because most of the bookkeeping the gins do, they do for their members, and their members are our members,” White says. “If we can make the bookkeeping, accounting and the flow of information go smoothly at the gin, then that is where our membership will benefit the most from our support of the gins.”