“It’s about who you are,” Mastronardi said. “Nothing will change just because you have a certificate hanging on the wall. If you are not committed to food safety and running a clean operation, you won’t.”
He suggested that smaller growers and shippers could form cooperative arrangements, similar to the Rocky Ford Cantaloupe Growers Association, to implement safe operations if the cost is too big for individuals to bear alone.
“That could even help them in the long run because of the demand for locally-grown produce,” DiMenna said. “It’s unfair for retailers to feel they have to buy from small growers to meet the demand for ‘local’ products when they know the smaller operations are exempt from government regulations.”