The US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a federal register notice terminating plans for developing a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. Members of the produce industry first petitioned AMS over four years ago to begin the process of creating such an agreement, which was to be modeled after the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA).
The decision to terminate the proceeding seems to be in response to the recently enacted Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration's proposed rules for produce safety and preventive controls for human food.
"The ongoing rulemaking may affect fundamental aspects of the proposed leafy greens vegetable marketing agreement program," AMS stated in its termination notice. "As a result, it is appropriate to terminate the leafy greens vegetable marketing agreement rulemaking proceeding at this time."
AMS also notes that terminating the process should make it easier for the industry and regulators to share information on future rule making.
"Termination of this proceeding will remove ex parte communication prohibitions and allow USDA to engage fully with all interested parties to discuss and consider the evolving needs of the industry and consumers going forward."
The decision to terminate the national leafy greens agreement process will probably shift the focus for the California and Arizona LGMA members. About 90 percent of the leafy greens grown in the US are grown in California and Arizona. Members that voluntarily agree to participate in the LGMA programs are assessed a fee, which pays for government auditors and inspectors. LGMA has already asked the FDA to consider certified LGMA members compliant with new food safety laws under the FSMA.