Produce Growers Offered Free Water Testing

Produce growers who want to get their water tested can do so for free, thanks to an effort by the Produce Safety Team at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, which is providing five drop-off dates and locations across the state. The first local date is Tuesday, June 25th from 4-6 PM in Atlantic. Another local pickup is scheduled for July 23rd in Atlantic.
Rural growers can get a head start on knowing what’s in their water, before regulations take effect. Some producers are required to have their water tested, depending on the size of operation and the source of water, in order to comply with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Others may wish to test their water to be precautious, in case there are any issues.
Since testing is limited in rural areas, Iowa State Extension and Outreach is sending test cups to county extension offices and farmers markets across the state. Producers should use one cup per water source, and can submit multiple cups if they have multiple water sources. Cups are available for pickup locally at the Cass County Extension Office, 805 West 10th Street in Atlantic, from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday-Friday.
Producers must follow all collection directions, being sure to mark the time on each sterile cup, and delivering the cup to the drop-off location within three hours. Members of the On-Farm Produce Safety Team will receive the samples at the drop-off locations and return them to the ISU lab in Ames. Testing and results will be completed in about a week’s time.
“This is important for rural growers because water testing is going to be required by the FSMA, and there are very few labs in the state that are performing the required test,” said Dan Fillius, food safety educator with ISU Extension and Outreach.
Fillius said FDA has pushed back the compliance dates to 2022 and beyond, depending on the size and classification of each producer. However, he said testing makes sense now, so growers can be prepared and take appropriate actions to improve their water quality, if necessary.
Growers who use public and municipal water do not need to do this test. Growers do not need to belong to a farmer’s market to drop off samples, and growers from any county are welcome to use the service. The three-hour delivery of collected samples is critical. Additional, detailed information will be provided to growers when thy pick up the cups at the Extension Office.
Drop-off locations
Algona: July 24, 2-4 p.m., corner of Dodge and Nebraska streets
Atlantic: June 25 and July 23, 4-6 p.m., 1200 E. 7th St., Orscheln Farm & Home parking lot
Bloomfield: June 18 and July 30, 2-4 p.m., 100 E. Jefferson St., north side of courthouse lawn
Decorah: June 5 and July 17, 2-3 p.m., 401 Heivly St., Lower Co-op parking lot
Lamoni Auction House: June 4 and July 15, 8:30-10 a.m., 16340 Farm Song Road, Lamoni
For more information, visit the On-Farm Produce Safety Team online, or call 515-294-6773.

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