(April 24) The California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement members voted to extend the enrollment period to May 18 for handlers to join the agreement’s board of directors.

Board chairman Joe Pezzini said April 23 that a number of companies missed the deadline, and since the marketing agreement is just starting, it was important to be as inclusive as possible.

“We want to get as many people in as we possibly can. So that’s why we decided to extend it another four weeks,” he said. “This is about food safety, and we want everybody to be adhering to the same practices. And by extending the deadline we think that goes toward more consistency.”

He said that even though 99% of California product is enrolled, the board felt that it should do everything possible to reach out to the remaining handlers.

Handlers that sign up during the extension will be assessed at a rate of 2 cents per carton. The measure would be retroactive to April 1.

Pezzini said inspectors are presently conducting informational audits.

“They’re going to get around to seeing all the different handlers that have signed up over the next few weeks,” he said. “That will be as much about calibrating the audit as it is to informing the handlers. And once everybody has been through the information audit we’ll go around again and certify people.”

Applications are available by contacting Ramiro Casillas at California Department of Food and Agriculture’s marketing branch, (916) 341-6005 or e-mail rcasillas@cdfa.ca.gov.