Two congressmen came to a California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement audit demonstration at a Salinas Valley lettuce field a few days after Food and Drug Administration staffers made a similar visit.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., chair of the House appropriations agriculture subcommittee, joined ranking member Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., on the Aug. 25 tour.
“We are very pleased these officials have taken time to visit our program, meet our farmers and see for themselves the success of this program,” LGMA board chairman Ryan Talley said in a news release.
It was Kingston’s first trip to the valley, which is part of Farr’s district.
“Many of the challenges I saw for growers are the same I hear about from blueberry and Vidalia onion farmers in my neck of the woods,” he said in the release.
Both congressmen said party differences would not block their cooperation on food safety.
“Food security and food safety are bipartisan issues,” Farr said in the release. “The fact that the chairman and ranking member of the House ag appropriations subcommittee joined for this tour of Salinas Valley agriculture demonstrates that.”
Like others in the industry, LGMA has been waiting since early this year for safety rules expected to be issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“We are hopeful the produce safety rule will be announced soon and are working closely with the FDA to make them aware of what is already being done with respect to food safety by the California Leafy Greens industry,” Scott Horsfall, LGMA chief executive officer, said in the release.
Four FDA staff members from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network made their visit to the valley Aug. 21-22.
They observed leafy greens growing and harvesting practices and a demonstration of audits done by U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed government auditors employed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.