Important information from the VT Agency of Agriculture. Be safe out there, it sounds like another round of nasty weather is coming this afternoon.-TB
Dear Produce Growers,
As the response to this week’s devastating flooding continues, we hope that you and your families are safe. Our hearts and minds are with you during this time and will continue to be throughout the arduous recovery process. If you need immediate support, please contact Vermont 211 by calling 2-1-1 or texting your zip code to 898211.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets has published a AGR.FloodResponse.
Several growers have contacted us with questions about handling produce and produce fields after recent flooding. The guidance below represents the Agency’s best recommendations at this time. If you have questions about how a crop or field may be affected by flooding, please contact the AGR.Produce or 802-622-4412.
Crops Affected by Flooding
Under U.S. law, crops where the edible portion of the plant has contacted flood waters are considered adulterated and cannot be sold for human consumption. Because floodwaters may contain sewage, chemicals, heavy metals, pathogens, or other contaminants, these crops must be discarded, destroyed, or tilled into the soil.
Flooding occurs when water outside of a grower’s control flows into or overflows a field. Pooled water after rainfall alone is not considered flooding. For more information, please see the following U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) resources and guidance:
- Resources for Human and Animal Food Producers Affected by Flooding
- Evaluating the Safety of Flood-affected Food Crops for Human Consumption
Evaluating the Safety of Crops and Fields
While any crop where the edible portion of the plant has contacted flood waters should be discarded, growers may be able to keep crops where the edible portion of the plant has not yet formed, such as immature potatoes. These crops should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis after reviewing FDA guidance.
There is no set timeline for when growers can safely replant after flood waters have receded. Growers should review the FDA guidance and follow these general principles: wait until the soil is fully dry before reworking; implement a waiting period before replanting to allow pathogens in the soil to die off over time; and clean and sanitize tools and equipment that contacted flood waters before using them to replant or harvest. A typical waiting period before replanting may be 30–60 days depending on the crop, weather and soil conditions, and the type and extent of contamination in the soil.
Growers should generally avoid replanting crops that are commonly eaten raw with an edible portion of the crop that grows in the ground (such as radishes) or directly on the soil surface (such as lettuce) unless a longer waiting period is adopted (e.g., 60 days or more). Field cultivation, compost applications, and the use of cover crops may help accelerate pathogen die off in previously flooded fields. Plastic mulch may also be used to limit contact between the soil and replanted crops.
Documenting Damage and Losses
Vermont will be working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a disaster declaration. Once it is safe to do so, please document any damage or crop losses, then reach out to your Farm Service (FSA) County Office. If you have questions about documenting crop loss, call the FSA State Office at 802-658-2803.
We recognize that recovery from this emergency will take significant time, energy, and resources. Farmers and their families can contact Farm Firstfor access to resources including technical, legal, or financial assistance as well as to a counselor or trained peer.
Please know that we are here to support you and your farm during this challenging growing season. Contact us with any questions at AGR.Produce, 802-622-4412, or 802-261-5866.
The Vermont Produce Program Team