Agreement may alter Ohio food handling

There’s always something in the news about one food or another causing consumers grief – Spinach, peanuts and pork have been recent culprits.

Foods can be occasionally spoiled during their transport cycle – or how food gets from the farm to grocery stores and local markets.

Americans are becoming increasingly cogni
zant of this process. Because of the enhanced attention, Congress is considering several food safety policies.

The National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA) is one such proposal. It would require Ohio produce growers to meet California-style food safety standards; forcing Ohio growers to adhere to growing policies and practices developed for and by California growers. Though this proposal is limited t
o leafy greens, the potential for similar proposals regarding fruits and vegetables seems imminent to some in Ohio’s produce industry.

To circumvent the potential of a complex food-safety regulation system being implemented in Ohio, The Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association (OPGMA) proactively established its own food safety plan for the Buckeye State.

The Ohio Fresh Produce
Marketing Agreement program elements:
  • A tiered approach that takes into consideration operation size
  • Developed by and for Ohio growers
  • Every produce-industry stakeholder has program input
  • Provides access to additional markets now and in the future
  • Provides customers with "peace of mind;" due diligence in growing safe food
  • Blends good food safety practices with good environmental principles
  • Encompasses all types of growers and is especially small-farm friendly

“We are trying to help the FDA because it is to our benefit to help them. If we don’t, we’ll get something that will put growers out of business,” said Bob Jones, Jr., OPGMA board member.

OPGMA believes that adhering to the NLGMA standards will adversely impact Ohio's small and medium-sized producers, who will be financially strapped to remain compliant.

Ohio’s Country Journal reported the recent development in its July edition. The story’s author, Matt Reese, reports:

“Unfortunately, whether it is really their fault or not, the blame often falls upon the farm. And as more scrutiny falls on farms, many of the larger Ohio produce operations have been required by their buyers to meet specific food safety standard operating procedures. For many operations this has resulted in the need to employ a full-time food safety quality assurance person to manage the complexities of the requirements that often have no backing in science or any potential for increased revenue for the farmer.”

Many state producers worry about the specifications of the NLGMA’s proposal spilling over into future produce-handling requirements in Ohio.

“Given the California agreement as an example, Ohio growers have major concerns with a number of specific on-farm requirements such as water use and usage, animal intrusion, field sanitation, harvest requirements, soil amendments and more. These specifics were designed around some California cultural practices and are not conducive to Ohio and many other states’ accepted practices,” said Lisa Schacht, an Ohio produce grower and member of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Innovative Farmers of Ohio, OFBF, Farmers' Market Management Network, Inc., Growing! Ohio Farmers' Markets and The Ohio State University support the Ohio Fresh Produce Marketing Agreement.

Reese reported that after the draft is completed, it must be reviewed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and will move through the process (which includes an industry vote) for the development of a market agreement sometime in 2011.

People may contact OPGMA board member or the Ohio Fresh Produce Marketing Agreement project manager Karl Kolb at with questions/comments.

*Photo obtained from: www.

1 comment:

johana mariz said...

I guess the application of one state's agreement may not always be adaptable to another state since they differ in many ways. The only thing that stays the same is the goal of the government to require food safety training course among food handlers from the growers until foods reach the consumers.