California provides “an excellent model” for the kind of public/private partnerships that can help to insure the safety of the nation's food supply, says Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

“In 1996 and 1997, in the wake of two strawberry scares, we at the California Department of Food and Agriculture brought together government, industry, and university leaders to address the problem.

“The result was the creation of the first of many Quality Assurance Plans — voluntary agreements that developed guidelines for safe food production and sound environmental practices.

“Diverse interests were able to work together, and their efforts were so successful that over the next several months new Quality Assurance Plans were developed for commodities such as eggs, produce, and dairy.

“By bringing the links of the food chain together, solutions were crafted that benefit everyone, without additional government regulation. That's a model we should all seek to follow in the coming years.