It all began not long after the E. coli outbreak in bagged spinach in 2006. With the goal of reducing the incidence of foodborne illness outbreaks, leafy greens marketing agreements were devised in California and Arizona. The agreements are voluntary in both states.
Last summer, a proponent group, which includes United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers, and the Produce Marketing Association — among others — proposed a voluntary National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA). This fall, hearings were held in various locations around the country regarding the proposed agreement, providing growers with an opportunity to have their voices heard.
Large And Small
Many large growers, especially those in California and Arizona, are in support of the agreement, saying verifiable standards are necessary to determine compliance.
Small and medium growers, on the other hand, are concerned that the agreement, although voluntary, may exclude them from selling leafy greens to some retailers if they choose not to participate. Because they are not producing on a grand scale for numerous buyers, complying with a national marketing agreement and the associated expenses could have a significant financial impact.
They also are concerned about the metrics for the agreement, saying that the proposed agreement is is similar to the ones in California and Arizona. Some growers also have stated that the difference in cultural practices from one side of the country to the other will make this proposed agreement very difficult for all growers to comply with.
The Bottom Line
Reducing the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks is something all growers want. In addition, whether they like it or not, most will agree food safety regulations are coming. In spite of that, there is concern that the proposed agreement will lead to further consolidation in the leafy greens industry and some question how it will it impact the locally grown movement that has been surging across the country.
To find out what leafy greens growers are saying about the agreement, American Vegetable Grower caught up with several — both large and small — from around the country to get feedback on the proposed agreement. We asked them if they are in favor of the agreement, how a national agreement will impact each operation, and what the impact of this agreement will be on the nation’s leafy greens industry. Click on the links below to see what they had to say.
Tom Nunes Jr. — Vice President, Nunes Co.
Joe Pezzini — Chief Operating Officer, Ocean Mist Farms
Maureen Torrey — Vice President, Torrey Farms
Chris Blanchard — Owner and Operator, Rock Spring Farm
Bob Jones Jr. — Co-owner, the Chef’s Garden
Judith Redmond — Co-owner, Full Belly Farm