Argentinian Lemon Import Lawsuit Update

Len Wilcox California Corner, lemons


Lemon packing line

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice asked for dismissal of the lawsuit by California lemon growers challenging a new import rule allowing Argentinian lemons into the United States. The U.S. Citrus Science Council (USCSC), representing approximately 750 family citrus farmers, filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in federal district court in Fresno, California, earlier this year.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) tried to have the case thrown out by arguing that the USCSC does not have standing to file a lawsuit challenging the Argentinian lemon import rule.  In response to the DOJ’s latest argument, USCSC immediately altered its draft brief, noting that the plaintiffs were small and large American farmers. In addition, USCSC pointed out that it is funded primarily from family farmers working together to protect an industry.

Focusing on the process by which the rule was created, USCSC stated that the lack of a trip report from May 2015, from which the entire rule is based, is a basic flaw because transparency did not exist. Furthermore, the USDA failed to acknowledge pests and diseases originate in port cities first and migrate to production areas.

The USDA is trying to argue that economic impact is nonexistent, except for lemon growers. Therefore, society as a whole can reap a benefit and is not negatively impacted.

USCSC is arguing that the process by which import rules are created requires transparency, and this rule came about in secrecy. The group also believes that the USDA’s argument does not take into account the cost of any insect or disease impacts resulting from the rule’s implementation.

A final decision in the case is not expected until the spring of 2018.

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About the Author

Len Wilcox

Correspondent at Large for Citrus Industry Magazine and AgNet West