The 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act mandated the publication of a rule for agricultural water used in the production of produce. The newly published rule specifically addresses the potential impacts of water from adjacent and nearby land, which includes animal feedlots. The goal is to eliminate foodborne illness outbreaks from fresh produce.

The rule only covers pre-harvest water. It does not include water used in the production of sprouts. Under the rule, farms are required to conduct assessments of their pre-harvest water once a year and whenever there is a significant change. Farms will be required to implement effective mitigation measures based on the findings.

Farmers will have a long timeline to comply with the new water regulations. Very small farms will be allowed two years, nine months from the final rule’s effective date. Small farms will given one year, and nine months and all other farms will get nine months from the publication of the final rule until enforcement begins.

Read more about the FDA rule for water used in growing produce here.