Congressman Panetta views California farm food safety program
The California LGMA was thrilled to welcome newly elected Congressman Jimmy Panetta for a tour and demonstration of the mandatory government audit of a leafy greens farm under the LGMA program.
Congressman Panetta was recently elected to serve the 20th Congressional District representing California’s central coast. He replaces long-time friend of the LGMA, Sam Farr, and the LGMA is looking forward to working with the new Congressman. Being from Monterey County, this was certainly not Panetta’s first visit to a leafy greens farm, but it was a terrific opportunity to educate him specifically about the LGMA and our mission to protect public health.
We began our visit at the Salinas offices of Church Brothers Farms for a discussion of the LGMA system and what is required of handlers to become certified. Church Brothers owner Steve Church, who serves as the current LGMA Chairman, had a chance to meet Panetta, “talk shop” and share stories about mutual friends and acquaintances throughout the industry.
From here, we traveled to a field in Chualar to a view harvest of romaine hearts. The Congressman was very interested in talking to the Church Brothers staff members, Francisco Munoz and Emily Alvarez who served as our tour guides. The Congressman was genuinely interested in learning more about these young people and their decision to work in the agriculture industry.
California Food and Agriculture auditor Roxanne Bramlage walked the Congressman through the steps involved in a mandatory government audit. The Congressman asked a lot of great questions about the LGMA food safety practices (metrics), risk assessment processes, and food safety training among many other issues.
Panetta sits on the House Agriculture Committee which is already hosting hearings on the next Farm Bill. Food safety will most definitely be discussed by this committee and Congressman Panetta was enthusiastic about sharing what he learned today with other members of the Committee.
All in all, it was a great start to what we hope is a close working relationship with Congressman Panetta. Since its creation in 2007, the LGMA has valued its relationship in working with all branches of government to improve food safety. This will continue to be important as the job of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act progresses. We hope that Congressman Panetta will look to the leafy greens industry and the LGMA for support and as a resource with respect to his role in this process. We very much thank Congressman Panetta and his staff for arranging this visit and to Church Brothers for hosting us.
If you’d like to keep up with Congressman Panetta you can find him here: