CORRAL DE TIERRA, Calif. — The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement honored A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, with its Golden Checkmark award Oct. 22.

“(Kawamura) really made possible the connection between the state government and the industry that established the LMGA approach to food safety,” LGMA chief executive officer Scott Horsfall said. “It was an unprecedented and unique way to use the marketing agreement structure to address food safety.”

The agriculture secretary is an appointed position, and will be up for grabs when a new governor is elected Nov. 2.

Outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a past recipient of the award, appointed Kawamura to the position in 2003.

“This is a way to recognize A.G. for all he’s done for California,” Horsfall said.

Kawamura wasn’t alone on the podium at Corral de Tierra Country Club. LGMA board member Joe Pezzini, who served as the marketing agreement’s first chairman until this April, also received a checkmark award.

“This is for everything he did in our first three years,” Horsfall said. “During the spinach crisis of 2006, Joe really stepped to the fore and led the industry. Everybody’s eager to recognize him for that, and for his work as chair.”

Pezzini is chief operating officer at Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms.

Established in 2007, the LGMA provides regular, mandatory audits of leafy greens farms by government inspectors.

LGMA honors Kawamura, Pezzini

Mike Hornick

Jamie Strachan, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement chairman (left); and Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers (right); honored state Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura and former LGMA chair Joe Pezzini with golden checkmark awards Oct. 22 in Corral de Tierra, Calif. Kawamura and Pezzini were recognized for their contributions to the LGMA.