(Oct. 31, 1:10 p.m.) ORLANDO, Fla. — The Leafy Greens Council is discussing a national marketing agreement modeled on the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement.

Many of the companies in the California agreement, who grow lettuce and other crops in the Yuma, Ariz., area, also formed a similar group in Arizona.

The proposal to expand the agreement nationwide was discussed at the St. Paul, Minn.-based council’s Oct. 26 meeting during Fresh Summit 2008.

Action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the proposal could take 12-24 months, said Scott Horsfall, chief executive officer of the California marketing agreement.

The voluntary agreement would cover the same commodities as the one in California and would entail good agricultural practices, good handling practices and good manufacturing practices.

Imported products handled by signatory members would fall within the agreement.

Assessments would be based on a per-carton or carton equivalent rate of no more than 5 cents.

Borrowing a page from California’s playbook, the national marketing order would issue a certification mark for bills of lading for members in compliance.

Research on and promotion of leafy greens would be within the agreements mandate, too.

Getting on board

Twenty-three board members from five geographic zones, as well as representatives from foodservice, retail, importer and public sectors would serve two-year terms.

Handlers would have a controlling majority of 13 seats, while grower members would have six. The other four sectors would have one seat each.

A 12-member, nonvoting technical review board would assist in developing audit metrics and good agricultural practices for review by the full board.

The review board would include a producer/handler member from each of the five geographic zones, a representative from a land-grant university in each zone and two representatives from the Food and Drug Administration.

A nonvoting 9-member market advisory panel would have two retail grocers, two members from the foodservice sector, three consumer representatives and two representatives from land grant universities.

The panel would give advice on retail and foodservice marketing and consumer acceptance.