The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a two- to four-year extension for farmers to achieve compliance levels for water standards for growing produce.
Additionally, the government agency said it will postpone related state-level agricultural inspections until spring 2019 for the FDA to streamline requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
The standards, which were written in 2015 and specifically focused on avoiding pathogens such as E.coli strains in irrigation water, drew criticism from farmers who said they found the updates burdensome, according to an announcement.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency’s decision recently in New Orleans.
"While our original intent was for states to begin inspections during 2018, to be consistent with the January 2018 compliance dates for larger farms, I'm announcing today that we're changing course," Gottlieb told National Association of State Departments of Agriculture participants, according to Politico. "We've heard very clearly from farmers and other stakeholders, including NASDA, that more time is necessary to ensure farmers have the training and information needed to comply and that states establish strong produce regulatory programs before inspections begin."
Gottlieb said that the updates were overly complicated as well as possibly too expensive, telling his audience that the FDA needed to re-evaluate its position. Additionally, he noted, the agency will offer educational resources to raise awareness among growers in the interim before final implementation