A group of California citrus growers has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Citrus Science Council issued a press release claiming the rule to allow Argentinian lemons into the U.S. violates the Plant Protection Act the House Agriculture Committee passed in 2000.
Argentinian lemons haven’t been allowed in the U.S. since 2001. The Obama administration aimed to lift the 16-year-old ban in 2016. The Trump administration issued a hold on that legislation earlier this year but has since released the rule which will take effect May 26.
The lawsuit claims incomplete science and politics led to the decision to lift the ban. “It is obvious that political considerations outweighed the basic administrative process and science for the past 12 months,” U.S. Citrus Science Council Chair, and Santa Paula Lemon grower, Richard Pidduck stated in the release.
California Citrus Mutual has adamantly opposed the rule also, claiming it will expose California’s lemon industry to pests and diseases. CCM President Joel Nelsen told AgNet West, “The foundation of this rule and the execution of the rule-making process under the Obama administration and now the Trump administration is laden with hypocrisy, ignores transparency, and dismisses the scientific and economic data that prove the rule will have significant negative consequences for California’s $3 billion fresh citrus industry.”