US: Fate of National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement unclear
Posted: December 9th, 2011 - 10:27am
Source: The Packer
Four years after it was first floated, the fate of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s voluntary National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement is still uncertain.
Late in 2007, the USDA proposed the national agreement. Finally, in late April, the agency published the proposed rule in a 239-page document.
The agency has received more than 2,100 comments on the proposal, said Gwen Sparks, public affairs manager for the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
“We don’t have a timeline for completion of the reviews (of the comments) or next steps,” she said in an e-mail Dec. 6.
Industry leaders have not heard any timeline from USDA, said Hank Giclas, Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers senior vice president for science, technology and strategic planning.
A recent partisan dust-up might delay the proposal more, Giclas said. The so-called “Christmas tree tax” (Opinion, A6) may have sensitized the USDA on the issue of marketing agreements and orders. What’s more, the agency’s dependency on Congress for its appropriations may have made it difficult for the USDA to risk its credibility on the issue while the USDA budget was finalized.
The USDA also may want to wait to see what kind of food safety produce rules will be issued by the Food and Drug Administration as they implement the Food Safety Modernization Act.