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Upcoming Webinar: FDA Publishes Landmark Final Rule on Pre-Harvest Agricultural Water

What: FDA webinar to review requirements for final rule on pre-harvest agricultural water

When: Monday, May 20th 2024 1:00-2:00 pm ET

Where: SMA Final Rule on Pre-Harvest Agricultural Water Webinar (register online)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week published a final rule on agricultural water that is intended to enhance the safety of produce, which can be contaminated by pathogens transported in agricultural water. The rule, issued under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), is designed to be practical across various agricultural water systems, uses, and practices, while remaining adaptable to future advancements in agricultural water quality science.

CCOF’s Food Safety Program Manager Jacob Guth noted, “It’s a risked-based rule, which is a win for growers because it’s not a one-size-fits-all rule that applies to the diversity of farming systems. With the risk-based approach, you can tailor your ag water safety practices to the particular set of variables on your farm. The trick is figuring out how to create written risk assessments. FDA created a risk assessment tool to help.” Visit the FDA website to view the risk assessment tool. A basic guide to FSMA is available online; this guide was written when the rules first were developed in 2016.

Specifically, this rule achieves the following:

  • Establishes requirements for agricultural water assessments that evaluate a variety of key determinants of contamination risks in pre-harvest agricultural water. This includes an evaluation of the water system, water use practices, crop characteristics, environmental conditions, potential impacts on water from adjacent and nearby land, and other relevant factors.
  • Includes testing pre-harvest agricultural water as part of an assessment in certain circumstances.
  • Requires farms to implement effective mitigation measures within specific time frames based on findings from their assessments. Hazards related to certain activities associated with adjacent and nearby land uses are subject to expedited mitigation.
  • Adds new options for mitigation measures, providing farms with additional flexibility in responding to findings from their pre-harvest agricultural water assessments.

Farms are required to conduct assessments of their pre-harvest agricultural water annually, and whenever a significant change occurs, are required to identify any conditions likely to introduce known or reasonably foreseeable hazards into or onto covered produce or food contact surfaces.

Growers must comply by the following dates:

  • For very small farms: Two years, nine months after the effective date of the final rule
  • For small farms: One year, nine months after the effective date of the final rule
  • For all other farms: Nine months after the effective date of the final rule

The rule does not alter existing requirements for agricultural water for sprouts, for which compliance dates have passed. It also does not alter existing requirements for harvest and post-harvest agricultural water activities. Additional information about compliance dates can be found on the webpage FDA Proposes Compliance Date Extension for Pre-Harvest Agricultural Water Requirements.

The FDA will hold an informational webinar on Monday, May 20, 2024, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. ET on the new rule, formally known as .

During the webinar, the FDA will provide an overview of the final rule and answer pre-submitted and live questions. Register for the webinar at the following link: FSMA Final Rule on Pre-Harvest Agricultural Water Webinar.

The webinar is a virtual event. Registration will remain open until the day of the webinar. Attendees who wish to submit questions may do so during registration through May 15.

The webinar will be recorded and posted to the meeting page.

Additional Information


This blog includes language from two releases issued by FDA, one on May 2, 2024 and one on May 7, 2024.




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