Final Pre-Harvest Agricultural Water Rule Published

Daniel CooperRegulation, Water

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule on certain pre-harvest agricultural water. The rule revises requirements for covered produce, other than sprouts, in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.

According to FDA, the revised requirements are intended to enhance public health by improving the safety of water used in produce cultivation. FDA stated that the requirements are designed to be practical across various agricultural water systems, uses and practices.

Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) noted that the rule requires farms to conduct annual systems-based agricultural water assessments to determine and guide appropriate measures to minimize potential risks associated with pre-harvest agricultural water. Requirements for harvest and post-harvest uses of agricultural water, and the agricultural water requirements for sprouts, have not changed.

The final rule will become effective July 5 this year. The compliance dates are:

  • April 7, 2025, for large farms
  • April 6, 2026, for small farms
  • April 5, 2027, for very small farms

FFVA, in a summary of requirements under the new rule, pointed out that farms are required to evaluate various factors as part of their annual agricultural water assessment. The assessment, which is required to be written, must address agricultural water systems, agricultural water practices, crop characteristics, environmental conditions and other relevant factors.

According to FFVA’s summary document, “If multiple water sources are used, each must be evaluated with an assessment. If a farm uses different agricultural water systems for different fields, the farm is required to prepare an agricultural water assessment for each system.”

FFVA also published a summary of corrective and mitigation measures required under the rule. Those measures must be implemented if an agricultural water source is deemed not safe or is not of adequate sanitary quality for intended use.

Additional FDA resources regarding the final rule include:

Sources: FDA and FFVA

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