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USDA proposal to create national leafy green marketing agreement
Gene McAvoy, County Extension Director and Regional Vegetable Agent for Hendry County Extension in LaBelle, Florida, tells us:
The USDA is moving forward with rulemaking for the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA). The agreement was proposed in 2009 by produce industry representatives.
USDA held 7 hearings across the country during 2009 and received over 5000 pages of testimony. They have made changes to the proposal after the first comment period among those are:
- Leafy greens are arugula, cabbage, chard, cilantro, endive, escarole, kale, lettuce, parsley radicchio, spinach and “Spring Mix (baby lettuces, mustards, chards spinach and chicories). Others could be added.
- The number of administrative zone were increased to 8 state groupings based on similar climates, production environments, crops , agricultural practices, etc.
- The administrative board would be made up of 26 members of which 10 would be growers including two small growers, 12 handlers (buyers), 1 retail person, 1 public member, 1 foodservice person and 1 importer; all appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.
- A Technical Review Committee would assist the board in developing standards for third party audits. The committee will be made up of growers, handlers, food safety experts, FDA, NRCS, etc.
- All standards that are developed would go out for public comment before taking affect.
- Any regulations developed by FDA for the Food Safety Modernization act would apply.
- This is a voluntary handler agreement, however if a handler signs up then he must buy his leafy greens from a grower who is third party audited.
- An assessment per carton will not exceed $0.05 per 24-pound carton of leafy green vegetables to cover administrative costs and verification audits for first handlers and their producers, research and education.
- If a handler signs up and imports leafy greens that product is also covered under the agreement.
- If you are a grower (no matter what size) that sells to a handler that is a signatory to the Agreement then you would need to follow the agreement.
The full proposal text will be published in the Federal Register on April 29. Go to www.ams.usda.gov for a copy. There is a 90-day comment period where anyone can comment anonymously if desired.
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