by Marion Nestle
May 14 2024

The FDA’s new agricultural water rule

The headline caught my eye: FDA Publishes Landmark Final Rule to Enhance the Safety of Agricultural Water

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule on agricultural water that represents an important step toward enhancing the safety of produce.

This addresses a big problem: contamination of agricultural land growing produce by bacteria in animal waste running off from CAFOs(onfined animal feeding operations), and dairy farms.

As I read it, the new rule requires:

  • Annual 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.
  • Testing pre-harvest agricultural water.
  • Implementation of mitigation measures needed, especially those “associated with adjacent and nearby land uses.”

In the usual way the FDA does these things, farms have roughly one or two years after the final rule is published to comply.

The agency says it “is committed to taking an “educate before and while we regulate” approach to supporting compliance.”

I’m not sure what this means, but this rule can’t be implemented soon enough.

Next: USDA has to do the same thing for water on CAFOs and dairy farms.


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