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Save Our Greens!!!

We may have lost the battle to prevent the mandatory pasteurization of almonds (though we can keep fighting to overturn it), but we must now fight to prevent the pasteurization of fresh greens. We may not know what the government or "handlers" (middlemen) have planned, but if it is anything like the almond pasteurization issue, we may have a difficult time getting fresh raw organic greens.

VERY URGENT: Green Leafy safety legislation proposal (12/3/07 deadline, but keep after them!?)

 

To submit comments online: Go to www.regulations.gov
Near the middle of the 
screen is the heading “Search Documents.”

For "Step 1", choose “Documents with an open comments period”

For "Optional Step 2", choose “DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE”

For "Optional Step 3", choose “PROPOSED RULES”

For "Optional Step 4", choose “Docket ID” and then type in or paste “AMS-FV-07-0090”

Click on “Submit.”


You should see "Handling Regulations for Leafy Greens Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937"

To the right under "Views" are two options for viewing the proposed rules: PDF or HTML

To the far right under "Coments Add/Due By:" there is a tan icon and "12/03/2007". Click on the icon.

On the next screen, "Public Comment and Submission Form", follow the instructions and submit your comments.

You may also fax your coments to: (202) 720-8938 "Comments should reference the docket number and thedate and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be available for public inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov."

Include this information with your fax (also if you send email, though email may not be "official"):
Federal Register: October 4, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 192)

Proposed Rules
Page 56678-56680
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DOCID:fr04oc07-12
Docket ID: AMS-FV-07-0090

Back to Save Our Greens page 1

The actual text of the "proposed rule" (which you can find by following the above procedures):

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Marketing Service
7 CFR Part 962
[Docket No. AMS–FV–07–0090; FV07–962–
1 AN]
Handling Regulations for Leafy Greens
Under the Agricultural Marketing
Agreement Act of 1937

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service,
USDA.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed
rulemaking.

SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing
Service (AMS) is issuing this advance
notice of proposed rulemaking in
response to industry interest in the
establishment of a marketing program to
address the handling of fresh and fresh-
cut leafy green vegetables. The program
would allow packers, processors,
shippers, and marketers (collectively
referred to as handlers) to maintain the
quality of their products by reducing the
risk of pathogenic contamination during
the production and handling of leafy
greens. Authorities and regulations
under the program would not supplant
those of the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), which is
responsible for ensuring that foods are
safe, wholesome, and sanitary.
Comments are being sought from the
public, particularly from growers,
handlers, buyers, and sellers of leafy
green commodities, regarding whether
to issue such regulations under an AMS
marketing program and if so, the
possible substance and implementation
of the program.

DATES: Comments must be received by
December 3, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are
invited to submit written comments
concerning the issues contained in this
notice. Comments must be sent to the
Docket Clerk, Marketing Order
Administration Branch, Fruit and
Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400
Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237,
Washington, DC 20250–0237;
Fax: (202) 720–8938
or Internet: http://www.regulations.gov
Comments should
reference the docket number and the
date and page number of this issue of
the Federal Register and will be
available for public inspection in the
Office of the Docket Clerk during regular
business hours, or can be viewed at:
http://www.regulations.gov.

FORFURTHERINFORMATIONCONTACT:
Laurel May or Kathleen Finn, Marketing
Order Administration Branch, Fruit and
Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400
Independence Avenue, SW., STOP
0237, Washington, DC 20250–0237;
Telephone: (202) 720–2491, Fax: (202)
720–8938, or E-mail:
laurel.may@usda.gov or
kathy.finn@usda.gov
.
SUPPLEMENTARYINFORMATION: This
advance notice of proposed rulemaking
invites comments on a potential
regulatory program intended to
maintain the quality of leafy green
commodities by reducing the risk of
pathogenic contamination during their
production and handling. AMS is
considering implementation of a
marketing agreement (agreement) in
response to heightened public and
industry concern about the safe
production and handling of leafy greens.
Under the program being considered,
handlers could voluntarily enter into
the agreement, but signatories would
then be required to comply with the
agreement’s regulations, which would
specify Best Practices for minimizing
the risk of pathogenic contamination of
leafy greens. The Best Practices could
include commodity-specific production
and handling guidelines that would be
developed in cooperation with the
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56679 Federal Register/Vol. 72, No. 192/Thursday, October 4, 2007/Proposed Rules
1
FDA Warning on Serious Foodborne E. coli
O157:H7 Outbreak; FDA News, September 14, 2006;
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/
NEW01450.html.
2
FDA Finalizes Report on 2006 Spinach
Outbreak, FDA News, March 23, 2007, http://
www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/
NEW01593.html.
industry and based upon FDA’s
voluntary Guide to Minimize Microbial
Food Safety Hazards in Fresh Fruits and
Vegetables, Guide to Minimize Microbial
Food Safety Hazards in Fresh-cut Fruits
and Vegetables, and other FDA-issued
guidance (http://www.fda.gov).
The agreement could include a
compliance certification and
verification program. For example,
handlers could be required to certify
that the leafy green products they
handle are produced in accordance with
the specified guidelines. Handlers
would further certify that the shipping,
processing, and packing of their leafy
green products meet the agreement’s
specifications. Signatory handlers that
meet the agreement’s requirements may
be authorized to affix an official
certification mark to their leafy green
products. Use of the mark would certify
that the products bearing the mark have
been grown, harvested, packed,
shipped, processed, and/or handled in
accordance with the agreement’s
regulations.
Verification audits would be
conducted by the Federal or Federal-
State Inspection Program to ensure that
handlers have complied with the
prescribed requirements. Violation of
the requirements could disqualify a
non-compliant handler from using the
mark for a certain period of time.
In addition to handling regulations,
the agreement could include consumer
education, production research, generic
promotion, or other programs,
depending upon the industry’s needs
and goals.
Pursuant to the requirements set forth
in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
would consider the economic impact
that implementation of the proposed
agreement would have on small entities
and would prepare a regulatory
flexibility analysis for inclusion in any
subsequent rulemaking action. The
informational impact of this action
would also be considered under the
Paperwork Reduction Act. Any action
undertaken as a result of this advance
notice would be reviewed by USDA
under Executive Orders 12866 and
12988.
AMS is considering establishment of
a marketing agreement rather than a
marketing order (order), which is
another regulatory program structure
available through AMS. Below is a brief
comparison of these two regulatory
instruments, which is intended to allow
interested persons a way to distinguish
between an agreement and an order so
they may better be able to provide
comments to USDA.

Marketing Orders and Agreements
The Agricultural Marketing
Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7
U.S.C. 601–674), hereinafter referred to
as the ‘‘Act,’’ authorizes the
implementation of Federal marketing
orders and agreements designed to
establish and maintain orderly
marketing conditions for the regulated
commodities. Orders and agreements
are implemented by AMS following
public notice and hearing at the request
of industries that demonstrate interest
in regulating the handling of
commodities produced within specified
geographic areas.
Orders may include the authority to
regulate the grade, size, quality,
packaging, inspection, and/or volume
handled of certain agricultural
commodities. Orders may also provide
for production and marketing research,
market development, and promotional
activities. Once established, compliance
with order regulations is mandatory for
all handlers of the affected commodity
within the production area. Orders must
be approved by growers in referenda
prior to implementation.
In comparison, agreements may be
entered into by growers, handlers,
processors, or others engaged in the
handling of any agricultural commodity
or its product. Signatories voluntarily
agree to participate in the programs and
comply with the regulations established
by the agreements, which may
include—but are not limited to—the
types authorized for orders.
Violation of order regulations may
result in the assessment of civil
penalties. The violation of orders and
agreements may result in enforcement
actions filed in the United States
District courts. Violation of agreements
could also result in suspension of
program privileges, such as use of the
program’s certification mark. Under the
Perishable Agricultural Commodities
Act, AMS is also authorized to
investigate and prosecute alleged
violations concerning misbranding or
mislabeling of commodity containers,
which would include misuse of a
certification mark developed under the
agreement. The FDA is responsible for
determining whether a regulated
product is causing an illness and may
recall products or take other actions to
halt the spread of that illness.
Orders and agreements offer
flexibility in designing and modifying
requirements to reflect changes in
production and handling practices. Both
are administered by committees of
representatives that are nominated by
the industries and selected by USDA.
Committees plan annual program
activities and submit budgets of
expenditures for approval by USDA.
Programs are funded by assessments,
which are levied on handlers and based
on the volume of commodity they
handle.
USDA provides oversight of
marketing programs to make sure the
orders and agreements operate in a
manner consistent with the Act. AMS
representatives attend committee
meetings and provide guidance to
program committees regarding
implementation of regulations and
conduct of committee business and
program activities. Regulations are
implemented following USDA approval
through the public rulemaking process.
The Federal or Federal-State Inspection
Programs inspect commodities, audit
handler procedures, and/or review
handler records to verify compliance
with mandatory regulations under
marketing orders and agreements.
Background
In mid-September 2006, the FDA
issued the first public alerts1of a multi-
state Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak
linked to fresh spinach grown in
California’s Salinas Valley. The
resulting recall was the largest ever for
leafy green products. The produce
industry responded quickly to the recall
in an effort to rebuild consumer
confidence and minimize the risk of
future outbreaks.
Investigations by the FDA and the
California Department of Health
Services, in cooperation with the
Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and USDA’s Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service,2
concluded that the E. coli
contamination might have been
attributed to environmental factors in
the production area. In response,
members of the California industry
initiated the establishment of a State
marketing agreement for handlers of
leafy greens (http://
www.caleafygreens.ca.gov/docs/
resources.asp), which became effective
February 10, 2007. Signatories to the
State agreement certify that the
production, handling, shipment, and
sale of leafy green products they handle
are compliant with commodity-specific
food safety guidelines adopted as Best
Practices under the agreement. The Best
Practices and its guidelines are designed
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56680 Federal Register/Vol. 72, No. 192/Thursday, October 4, 2007/Proposed Rules
to minimize the risk of pathogenic
contamination. Compliance with the
Best Practices is verified by agricultural
inspection agencies under contract with
the administrative Board established
under the agreement.
Although AMS has not received an
official proposal, members of the leafy
greens industry have expressed interest
in the establishment of similar
standards through a Federal marketing
program. Industry discussions have
focused on the need for a program with
national scope. In response, AMS is
considering the development of a
marketing agreement as previously
described in this document. AMS
believes that an agreement, rather than
an order, is more likely to meet the
needs of the produce industry across the
fifty States and the District of Columbia.
Agreements offer greater flexibility in
designing regulatory programs since the
programs authorized for agreements are
not limited to those specified for orders
under the Act. Also, handlers
voluntarily enter into agreements, giving
individuals the opportunity to
determine whether they want to
participate, which may be more
responsive to the needs of a nationwide
industry.
As part of its review, AMS is seeking
public comments and proposals
regarding establishment of a nationwide
agreement for the handling of leafy
green products. If further development
is warranted by response to this request,
AMS would publish a notice of hearing
on a proposed marketing agreement in
the Federal Register in accordance with
the provisions of sections 556 and 557
of title 5 of the United States Code and
the applicable rules of practice and
procedure governing the formulation of
marketing agreements and orders (7 CFR
part 900). Public hearings regarding the
proposed agreement would be held
throughout the country, and handler
sign-ups would be conducted if the
agreement was approved by USDA.
Agency Request for Information
AMS is soliciting the views of
growers, handlers, buyers, sellers,
consumers, and other interested persons
on a possible marketing agreement to
regulate the handling of leafy green
commodities. Additionally, AMS is
interested in any information from
industry organizations that could assist
with the development of leafy green
produce industry profiles. The agency
will use information, comments, and
proposals received to evaluate whether
development of such an agreement for
the fifty States and the District of
Columbia should be pursued. In
particular, AMS invites responses to the
following questions:
(1) Would the handling of leafy greens
be better addressed though regulations
under a voluntary marketing agreement
signed by handlers, or under a
mandatory marketing order regulating
handlers and approved by a producer
referendum?
(2) Would such a program be better
implemented on a national or a regional
basis?
(3) How should the United States be
subdivided into smaller regions for the
purposes of committee representation
and program administration?
(4) How should committee
membership be allocated to adequately
represent the interests of industry
throughout all regions of the United
States?
(5) What process should the
committee follow to recommend
regulations appropriate to the various
regions? For example, would regulations
for handling leafy greens on the east
coast differ from those on the west
coast, and if so, how should the
administrative committee address the
differences while developing
recommendations for regulations?
(6) What specific problems or issues
should be addressed by such a
marketing program?
(7) Would Best Practices based upon
FDA guidelines be the best criteria for
regulation of leafy green handling, or are
there other criteria available that might
better meet the industry’s needs?
(8) Which specific leafy green
commodities should be included under
the program’s handling regulations?
(9) What are potential obstacles to the
implementation of such a marketing
program? For example, would distance
make it impractical for the committee to
meet frequently? Might regional
subcommittees be appointed to meet
more frequently and consider local
matters for presentation at annual
national committee meetings?
(10) What are the potential costs
associated with the implementation of
such a program, including changes to
current production and handling
procedures, assessments, and audits?
(11) How would a marketing program
complement, duplicate, or conflict with
any other existing programs, such as
state food safety regulations? and
(12) Are there other issues and/or
suggestions about such a marketing
program?
All views are solicited so that every
aspect of this potential regulation may
be studied prior to formulating a
proposed rule, if warranted, by AMS.
This request for public comment does
not constitute notification that the
agreement described in this document is
or will be proposed or adopted.
A 60-day comment period is provided
to allow sufficient time for interested
parties to comment on a possible leafy
green marketing program. All timely
written comments received will be
considered before any subsequent
rulemaking action is undertaken.
Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601–674.
Dated: October 1, 2007.
Lloyd C. Day,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing
Service.
[FR Doc. E7–19629 Filed 10–3–07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410–02–P



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