Produce Safety Water Summit Brings Clarity To Agricultural Water Standards

(Vermont Agency of Agriculture, UVM Extension, and New Hampshire representatives are participating in the Produce Safety Alliance Water Summit remotely on February 27 and 28, 2018.)

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Water Summit is taking place today and tomorrow in Covington, KY. Due to high demand, there are also 28 remote sessions taking place across the country feeding into the Summit in real time, including a session organized by University of Vermont Extension in Barre, Vt. The PSA Water Summit centers on Subpart E—Agricultural Water of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) There have been many questions, concerns, and debates surrounding the PSR’s Agricultural Water standards, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks feedback from Summit participants so they can work to make the requirements practical, economical, and less burdensome for produce growers.

Objectives of the PSA Water Summit are as follows:

  • Discuss the diverse ways that water is being used in farms across the country as well as challenges and concerns related to current standards for water quality and testing.
  • Discuss and develop minimum standards, practices, or approaches to identify challenges and concerns with existing PSR requirements to control water quality hazards. These should be practical for the production of fruits and vegetables.
  • Recommend actionable next steps related to the standards, practices or approaches that address these challenges and concerns, including 1) the scientific basis for standards, practices, or approaches, 2) implementation support, including recommended partnerships and timelines, and 3) a process to review and validate scientific data or information collected to support the use of minimum standards, practices, or approaches to meet the requirements of the PSR.

During the FDA Welcome at the Summit, Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Deputy FDA Commissioner for Food & Veterinary Medicine, made it clear that the standards in Subpart E are not set in stone and noted that “all options are on the table, including reopening the rule.” This Summit is an important opportunity for produce growers, state, extension, and other industry stakeholders to provide feedback to FDA on the Agricultural Water standards so that FDA can take all aspects into consideration as they move forward in considering revisions to the standard.

A live one-way audio and video stream is available and free to the public. If you are interested in listening to the Produce Safety Alliance Water Summit please visit https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/water-summit and follow the instructions under “Public Zoom Webinar Links.”

The Vermont Produce Program at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets will be providing growers with updates regarding Subpart E as final requirements and compliance dates are determined. To stay up to date on the Produce Safety Rule, partner with the Vermont Produce Program by enrolling your farm in the Vermont Produce Portal at http://agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram. You will receive updates on the PSR and produce safety requirements and can work directly with program staff to determine if your farm is subject to the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

Contact:
Dominique Giroux
Education and Outreach Coordinator (Produce Safety)
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets

(802) 522-3132
Dominique.Giroux@vermont.gov