Farmers in the nation’s largest onion-growing region who depend on shared public irrigation systems worry that new federal rules governing the cleanliness of water will threaten their livelihood.
The Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion growing region is the nation’s largest in terms of volume, with more than 20,000 acres of big bulb onions grown annually.
The rules proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration focus on the amount of E. coli bacteria allowed in water that directly contacts with produce during or after harvest.
Growers say almost none of the surface water will meet the new standards.
The Capital Press reported that Idaho’s two Republican U.S. Senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, and Michigan Rep. Dan Benishek, have introduced legislation that seeks to defund the proposed fresh produce rule.