California Farms brought virtually to Washington DC
The LGMA has hosted several farm tours for officials from the FDA in recent years. The goal of these tours is for regulators to get “boots on the ground” on California leafy greens farms. We have found this is one of the best ways to show what farmers do everyday to keep food safe.
A tour like this would be of great benefit as FDA is currently working to implement new food safety laws under FSMA. But time is short and staff is stretched in our nation’s capital. So, this week we took the farm to them. That way FDA staff members could learn without having to leave their desks.
Technology allowed us to offer a virtual tour of the lettuce farms. The presentation opened with a personal video message from the California Secretary of Agriculture. Drone footage showed the vastness of the growing regions and a bird’s eye view of harvest. Another video highlighted what happens during an LGMA food safety audit.
Members of the CA and AZ LGMA Boards (as well as staff) were on hand to answer questions. A big thanks to Ron Ratto, Steve Church, Dan Sutton and Tom Russell for their participation and contributions.
This is part of the LGMA’s ongoing work to show FDA that 90% US leafy greens are grown under a food safety program almost identical to FSMA. Like FSMA, the LGMA aims to prevent foodborne illness. The LGMA does this by requiring that farmers use science-based food safety practices. The LGMA then verifies compliance through frequent government audits of leafy greens farms.
Unlike FSMA, the LGMA has been in place since 2007 and is currently mandatory for all LGMA members. And, perhaps the best part of all, the LGMA is fully funded by industry. This industry funded program is also quite rigorous with members being audited an average of 5 times per year at no cost to tax payers.
For these reasons, we believe our system is the perfect solution for verifying compliance with the Produce Rule for leafy greens produced in California and Arizona.
While in Washington we’ll also be stopping by the offices of our Congressional representatives so that we continue to update lawmakers about LGMA activities. We have much to share with them as the program continues to evolve and improve.
We’re very pleased and proud to share our work with those in Washington DC and – while they may not be able come visit is in this busy time period – the door is always open and we hope to see them in California soon.