The Department of Agriculture has recently endorsed the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, a voluntary agreement between agricultural producers to better coordinate various safety practices and production standards. The idea for a national agreement is based on a successful interstate agreement between California and Arizona producers, which has had a remarkable impact on the quality of leafy greens in both states.
A national marketing agreement would standardize production guidelines among leafy greens producers nationwide. The agreement, which would be entered into voluntarily, would codify safety requirements and best practices, which companies would have to comply with in order to remain in the agreement. Independent audits and inspections on the part of government employees would guarantee compliance, and would lend an air of legitimacy to the agreement. The agreement and the standardization of practices would benefit consumers, but also producers, who would be better able to enhance their national images as well as the quality of their products.
This proposed agreement was recently backed by the USDA, which released a recommendation for its adoption at the end of April. The USDA proposed the creation of eight regional zones, represented by boards consisting of both handlers and farmers, with added representation by importers, retailers, and food service representatives. The boards would manage the Agreement, providing the overall uniformity needed for such a project to work, as well as the regional flexibility to account for differing climate.
The USDA is currently soliciting comments, in order to better gage the interest in such a program as well as its overall feasibility.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer