Handlers of leafy green vegetables in April began paying assessments on a new Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement designed to establish voluntary food safety standards for spinach and other leafy green crops.

The marketing agreement’s role is to verify and certify that signatories are following industry guidelines for leafy greens production, using a USDA-designed inspection program in use around the country for other commodities. A total of 71 handlers have signed-up so far, representing more than 99 percent of the leafy greens produced in California.

Those handlers will pay 2 cents per carton to operate the agreement, which is being administered by CDFA. Inspections to verify the practices are schedule to begin sometime this spring although details were still being finalized.