Ten Years with the Leafy Greens Community

This year, as the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement commemorates ten years of existence, I am also celebrating ten years as an employee of this organization. I can honestly say it has been a pleasure working with everyone in the leafy greens community over the past decade.

Although I was hired by the LGMA in 2007 as its first CEO, by that time most of the hard work had already been done. The industry and state government had already come together to develop an unprecedented program designed to protect public health.  At that point, the LGMA was looking for someone to serve as its executive officer, but what they really didn’t need was someone to “lead” them. Plenty of leaders already existed within the membership’s ranks. These individuals had and continue to demonstrate a real commitment to making this program work.  Many throughout the industry spent countless hours with the government, scientists and food safety experts to develop metrics, establish funding mechanisms and create a system that worked very well at what it was intended to do – prevent people from getting sick.

The LGMA is a true success story and the program remains largely unchanged today. The one thing that has changed is the attitude of many in the leafy greens community. Like anything “new” the LGMA did encounter some resistance at first.  Farmers (an independent group by nature) often don’t take kindly to forced requirements – especially when they are both expensive and time-consuming to implement.  When I first started with the LGMA I met more than one farmer who reported their original opposition to the LGMA.  Yet, through the years, these same farmers have sat alongside me in defense and support of the LGMA program as we’ve met with government regulators, buyers, media and consumer advocacy groups.  Today, they are true believers.

As the produce industry moves forward to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, I am proud to report there is no opposition to these new laws among LGMA members. Food safety practices and government audits are part of our culture.  This is just how leafy greens are grown.  I’m hopeful that regulators at the U.S. FDA and California Department of Food and Agriculture along with other produce farmers and commodity groups will look to the LGMA as an example of how government and industry can come together in true partnership. I cannot tell you all how proud and thankful I am to be part of the leafy green community.

Congratulations to Scott Horsfall on his 10 year anniversary as CEO of the LGMA. Scott has done a tremendous job leading this organization helping to change the culture of food safety on the farm. The LGMA has been a sound organization following metrics that are science-based and forming LGMA TECH which provides such great training to the Leafy Greens industry. Without Scott we could not have accomplished so much.
– Steve Church, CEO, Church Bros. Farms and LGMA Chairman 

 


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