Strategic Plan: Ten Years of Protecting Public Health
The LGMA, now in its tenth year of operation, just completed a fourth rendition of its Strategic Plan. Since its beginnings, one of LGMA’s core principles is the drive for continuous improvement. This is important not just when it comes to improving on food safety practices on leafy greens farms, but also in how the organization’s programs are implemented and managed. Thus the LGMA commits to a regular review of its mission, objectives and values that serve to guide its daily activities.
The LGMA is extremely fortunate to have a team of committed industry members who serve on our Board. These Board members and others throughout the leafy greens industry always offer valuable input as part of these strategic planning exercises. We’re also able to gather insights from other important stakeholders, including the buying community.
What we’re able to achieve at the end of this process is a clear picture of the LGMA priorities that will shape our programs for the next few years. These priorities have changed and evolved over the years to match our members’ needs. This year, along with our core mandate to verify, through government audit that our members are following accepted food safety practices, we have identified five strategic priorities as follows:
Priority #1: Training
The LGMA exists to ensure leafy greens are produced using the most current science-based food safety practices. To help accomplish this, the LGMA provides local and low-cost training to our member-handlers and their employees through a program called LGMA Tech. One of our highest priorities for the next few years is to continue enhancing the curriculum offered through LGMA Tech and to make it more accessible to our members.
Priority #2: Produce Buyers
Although many produce buyers are supportive and complimentary of the LGMA; many do not accept LGMA certification as the only food safety verification required of their leafy greens suppliers. This is challenging for LGMA members who are subject multiple and duplicative audits. A renewed effort will be aimed at establishing a dialogue with produce buyers on food safety. LGMA plans to gain a better understanding of buyer issues and explore improved products to meet buyer needs.
Priority #3: FSMA Produce Safety Rule
The LGMA will continue its focus on getting FDA to accept LGMA certification as being in compliance with the Produce Safety Rule under FSMA. This has been a focus of the LGMA for the past several years, but the implementation of the Produce Rule now at hand, it’s time to close the deal. The ultimate goal is for regulators and buyers to recognize that all LGMA-certified handlers are in compliance with new federal laws and that no further verification is needed.
Priority #3: Government Outreach
This priority recognizes the importance of the LGMA’s relationships with government officials and calls for LGMA to continue to maintain and improve in this area. Over the past six years, the LGMA has worked with Troutman-Sanders, a DC-based strategic consulting firm, who has helped us to educate regulators and elected officials about the LGMA as well as develop champions for the LGMA program. These efforts continue to yield important results.
Priority #5: Audit Value
To provide the greatest value to our members, the LGMA will be taking a very close look at how the current audit could be changed to work with GFSI and other grower certification programs. Options for this will be examined in the coming years.
These five priorities identified by the Board as the most important to the California leafy greens industry will be focus of our work at the LGMA for the near future. As always, we will keep you updated on our progress.
We thank all of you who were involved in the development of this new Strategic Plan and look forward to getting to work!