LOS ANGELES --
California farmers and State Sen. Dean Florez are at odds over proposed safety regulations for lettuce, spinach and other crops. In response to last year's E. coli outbreak linked to spinach, Florez plans to introduce a bill Feb. 1 that calls for a system to track produce from fields to store shelves and would force growers to further protect crops from contaminated water and stray animals that can spread bacteria, according to published reports. Growers think the senator's plan would be costly and could punish them for outbreaks beyond their control. In response, Western Growers Association is preparing a self-regulating system, which would be implemented through a marketing agreement among produce shippers and handlers that agree to buy only from growers who meet certain requirements, published reports said. The senator's plan would be tougher on growers, WGA said.