There are two regulatory issues happening now that apple and grape growers should keep an eye on and consider getting involved in the process.
- The first is a bill in the Vermont legislature, H.466, which has already passed the house and is in the Senate Natural Resources committee this week. This bill would set up a monitoring and potential licensing program for agricultural users of surface waters for irrigation. As with most such regulations, there is a minimum threshold below which there is an exemption, and in this bill is set at 5,000 gallons per day. For anyone who irrigates, it’s not hard for even a small operation to use that in an hour.
Here is a link to yesterday’s bill walkthrough in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy committee: https://youtu.be/vujZggH6EmY?t=4140.
The walkthrough is about 10 minutes long, from 1:09:00–1:19:35.
It’s next on the cbray) and the Committee Assistant Jude Newman (jnewman) to testify.
- At the Federal level, comments are open on a rule within the Food Safety Modernization Act that would provide more flexibility for farms to comply with water testing requirements. The new rule would replace required frequent testing (and treating, if necessary) of waters used for irrigation, foliar sprays, and other preharvest uses with a risk-based protocol. While potentially more flexible, this system would also involve growers’ developing and adopting a time consuming and difficult process to evaluate the safety of waters used in crop production. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets and Vermont Tre Fruit Growers Association are preparing a comment and are soliciting input from the grower community.
More information on the draft rules can be found at: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/produce-program/fda-announces-proposed-changes-agricultural-water-requirements-produce-farms. As mentioned there, these rules affect farms that are “covered” by the Produce Safety Rule under FSMA. Generally, those are farms with gross sales over $500,000 who sell produce on the wholesale market, although the definition is a little me complicated than that.
If anyone has questions or comments, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them or pass on to the appropriate person.
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