(March 18, 4:22 p.m.) The California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement is accepting sign-ups for new members for fiscal 2008-09.

With 115 handlers already signed up, the marketing agreement represents more than 99% of the volume of leafy greens grown and shipped from California. Anyone interested in becoming a member must join by April 1.

“Last year, because it was new and there was a lot going on and the awareness wasn’t out there, the board amended the marketing agreement and opened the sign-up period to all year,” said Scott Horsfall, chief executive officer for the marketing agreement. “This year, we’re reverting to how it was written, which is you sign up by April 1.”

Horsfall said that while 99% participation represents the majority of handlers in the state, it’s still important to bring onboard as many of the remaining 1% as possible, though he said no one really knows how many companies or individual growers that might mean.

“When this program was originally set up, people went through various lists and came up with about 75 or 85 companies that they thought would be eligible to be members; we ended up with 115,” he said. “There are a lot of small companies and we want to make sure if they want to be in, they know the rules.”

He said after the organization released its first status report Feb. 28, three new companies signed up.

“There are companies out there still eligible to be members and we want to make sure that we’ve given them the opportunity to know about this,” he said.