The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) is currently accepting sign-up forms from new signatories for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

To participate in the LGMA program from April 1, 2010 – March 31, 2011 handlers need to complete a sign-up form and submit it to the LGMA office by April 1, 2010.

Current members do not need to sign up again. Any signatory who wishes to terminate a membership needs to submit the request in writing by April 1, 2010.

The LGMA represents an unprecedented commitment to food safety. Over 100 handlers of California lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens joined the organization in 2007, committing to handle and sell products grown in accordance with a set of food safety practices.

Buyers of leafy green products can find out if suppliers are LGMA certified members in good standing at the LGMA Web site at www.lgma.ca.gov.

Canada and Mexico have regulations in place allowing imports of leafy greens only from LGMA-certified companies.

Handlers who would like to join the LGMA need to verify that they meet the LGMA’s definition of a handler and that they handle at least one of the leafy green products covered under the LGMA program.

The LGMA defines a handler as any person who handles, processes, ships, or distributes leafy green product for market whether as owner, agent, employee, broker, or otherwise. This definition does not include retailers.

Leafy green products covered by the LGMA include arugula, baby leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, cabbage, chard, endive, escarole, green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, kale, red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach and spring mix.

Prospective members can review the LGMA’s food safety practices on the LGMA Web site. Once enrolled, members and growers are subject to mandatory government audits conducted by California Department of Food and Agriculture inspectors.

The goal of the audits is to verify that handlers and their growers are complying with the accepted food safety practices of the LGMA.

Members of the LGMA are subject to assessments on all California grown leafy greens handled by the company from April 1, 2010 – March 31, 2011.

For more information on the 2010/2011 LGMA sign-up, go online to www.lgma.ca.gov.