The US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has formally recommended a proposed National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement that was published in the April 29 edition of the Federal Register.
The Produce Marketing Association has been collaborating with other regional and national industry organizations, as well as with the USDA, in support of this effort and applauds the USDA in this step toward ensuring consumer confidence in the supply and safety of leafy greens.
While a detailed review of this proposal is needed, PMA believes the structure set forth by the voluntary marketing agreement will help the industry’s leafy green producers continue to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. The produce industry has already seen the success of the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements, and PMA supports this similar national effort that provides regional flexibility.
PMA and others proposed the establishment of a national agreement to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service in June 2009. The USDA then released a draft of the governance structure of an agreement for public comment later that year. This new recommendation is the result of seven public hearings during 2009, in which PMA provided active support, and thousands of comments received on the 2009 draft.
This latest proposal, which provides flexibility for a variety of opinions, calls for diverse representation—from geography to farm size—among its leadership, and would also include food safety experts from other agencies within USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and others. In addition, the proposed standards would coincide with FDA’s ongoing work to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
PMA’s government relations program continues to ensure that not only this agreement meets the needs of consumers, but also that any legislative or regulatory programs impacting the produce industry represent the best interests of its members and stakeholders.
The next step is a 90-day comment period. If the majority of the comments are favorable, the marketing agreement will be adopted by the Secretary of Agriculture.
For more information, visit www.pma.com.