“People really wanted to ensure that there was grower representation on the board and that there was representation of different sizes of operation, so that they would have a voice in the conversation about practices they would have to adhere to,” Pegg said.
“During the hearings, there was a recognition on the part of proponents that we need to expand to include more growers,” Giclas said.
Other changes to the proposed agreement include new membership on the technical review committee. “There were a lot of concerns over comanagement with food safety and conservation practices, so the proposal includes the Natural Resource Conservation Service having a seat on the committee,” Pegg said.
The 24 technical review committee members would include one producer, one handler and one food safety expert from each of the eight zones. At least one of the eight producers must be a small grower and one must be a certified organic grower. Beside these and the NRCS, other appointees could come from the National Organic Program, the federal Food and Drug Administration and other agencies.
Among the variables still to be decided is the fate of state leafy greens marketing agreements in Arizona and California.
“A couple of concepts have been talked about,” Giclas said. “One is there may be no need for the state agreements. The industry wants to minimize duplication of efforts, fees and administration. The national and state agreements need to evaluate how they dovetail into each other. It may be that the state agreements become regional arms of the national agreement. It may be that they just dissolve.”
“It sounds to me like USDA is conceptually consistent with where proponent groups were,” Giclas said. “The groups have moved the ball forward and it’s up to the industry to collaborate together to move this forward.”