Government regulations are not new to producers of California leafy greens. The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has been in place since 2007 as the best model to produce safe food because it establishes a culture of food safety on the farm. In January 2013 new federal laws overseeing fruits and vegetable food safety were issued as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Visit this page for the latest information on FDA’s proposed Produce Rule and how it will effect leafy green farmers.
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The LGMA plans to thoroughly review the proposed Produce Rule and provide FDA with our comments.
Submit your own comments to the FDA > Comment
The LGMA is pleased to see that the rules being proposed by the FDA closely reflect the existing LGMA food safety model. FDA is proposing specific standards for:
The proposed Produce Rule is preliminary and will be finalized in early 2014 by the FDA. The proposed rules are subject to public comments, which are due by May 16, 2013. Once the comment period closes, FDA will review all comments submitted, finalize the rules and publish them in 2014.
Once the final rules are published (expected in early 2014) most farmers will have two years to come into compliance. In addition, farmers will have two additional years to comply with all of the water testing requirements. Smaller operations will have additional time.
For the most part, the existing LGMA food safety practices exceed the requirements of the proposed produce rule. The LGMA is working to determine what, if any, changes to the LGMA program might be required in order to ensure that all physical requirements are being met through the program.
FDA has acknowledged that it does not have the resources to start inspecting every farm in the country. The LGMA is working closely with FDA to make sure that the new federal food safety rules do not result in additional audits and inspections of farms that are already being audited under the LGMA program. We will seek to build a mechanism with FDA to ensure that compliance with the LGMA verifies compliance with the new federal rules.
At this time the question of fees is not addressed in the produce rule. The LGMA is working to develop a mechanism to verify compliance with the new rules through the existing LGMA program, in part so that no additional fees or costs will be incurred or required.
When it passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, Congress included an exemption for small farmers. The so-called Tester amendment exempts companies who sell locally and sell less than $500,000 worth of product a year, with 51% of that or more going to local sales, from the requirement to comply with the food safety laws. In addition, the proposed produce rule offers additional classifications of very small and small companies who, while required to comply with the new rules, will be given more time to do so.
All stakeholders have been invited by FDA to provide comments on the proposed rules prior to May 16, 2013. The LGMA will be sharing its thoughts and potential message points with industry in advance of the May 16 deadline, and handlers and growers are encouraged to submit comments directly to FDA if they feel strongly about certain elements of the proposed rule.
The New Produce Rule and the Leafy Greens Industry.