The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced it would not move forward with a proposal by the leafy greens industry to create the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA).
First proposed more than four years ago, the initiative would have created a nationally recognized standard for safely growing leafy salad greens modeled after the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements (LGMA).
The timing of the announcement came as a surprise to some members of the leafy greens industry, as growers are currently waiting on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to release its final produce rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
“The timing was the one thing that surprised me,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California LGMA. “Personally, it made sense to let the NLGMA sit until the FSMA rules had been finalized.”
Some 90 percent of America’s leafy greens are already grown in California and Arizona, but many industry members thought it made sense to expand their program nationally.
In formal comments, the LGMA has already asked FDA to consider LGMA-certified growers to be compliant with FSMA rules.
“We go beyond what the FSMA produce rules require,” Horsfall said.
The LGMA requires government auditors with funding provided by the industry, meaning that no additional tax dollars are needed, Horsfall said.
Leafy greens industry representatives met with leaders at FDA to discuss the potential of recognizing LGMA rules and compliance. Horsfall said the industry had not seen anything to indicate that FDA would not consider the proposal, although it was too early to tell what they would decide.© Food Safety News