Delmarva Watermelon Farmers Prepared for Possible Inspections - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva Watermelon Farmers Prepared for Possible Inspections

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MARDELA SPRINGS, Md.- Watermelon growers in Maryland and Delaware are likely to receive Department of Labor inspections this year. Local farmers say they are prepared and confident.

"These are the plants we set out in the field the first week of May," said Lee Williamson, pointing to his watermelon crop.

They are plants that, in a couple months, will yield one of the most beloved fruits of summer. But before that happens, watermelon farmers like Williamson may be the focus of wage and hour inspectors from the Labor Department.

"We do the best we can to be in compliance and we'll set up port-a-potties with hand washing stations, and post the signs for the chemicals we're using and try to do the best we can to keep everybody out of the field that's not supposed to be here," Williamson explained.

The National Watermelon Association was notified last month that hours worked per day, overtime pay, wage rates and hiring documentation could be brought up during inspections. Williamson said being in compliance can be challenging, especially when it comes to the need for labor at the peak of the season. Moreover, farmers have to stay on top of changing rules and regulations.

"Every year, they get a little more, more and more regulations all the time, and we just do the best to try to follow the rules that they come up with us every year," noted Williamson.

Inspections so far this year have been on watermelon farms in Florida. They are expected to continue up the east coast and onto Delmarva as the season continues.

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