Pest Prevention Programs Allowed to Continue

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will now be allowed to continue its pest prevention programs.  California’s Third District Court of Appeal has granted a stay of a recent Superior Court injunction suspending a key portion of the agency’s Plant Pest Prevention and Management Program.

Pest Prevention ProgramsThe Superior Court injunction had originally ordered CDFA to discontinue any chemical activities for pest control and eradication which rely on the Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in relation to CDFA’s Statewide Plant Pest Prevention Management.  The stay of the injunction means that CDFA will be allowed to resume pest prevention programs that use PEIR to comply with CEQA requirements while the decision and injunction are both appealed.

The injunction initially stemmed from a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of organizations such as the Environmental Working Group and Californians for Pesticide Reform.  The Attorney General’s office defended the CDFA in court proceedings, with Secretary Karen Ross being highly involved in the process.  Secretary Ross was also given authority to designate a few programs, including efforts to confront Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and Huanglongbing (HLB), as emergencies so that treatment programs could continue as scheduled.

The ruling allows certain invasive pest programs to continue as CDFA works to appeal a broader decision preventing the agency from continuing emergency eradication programs.  Similar court proceedings have been brought against CDFA and its pest prevention and management programs.  Last year, activists were responsible for bringing a case that resulted in the Court finding CDFA out of compliance with certain legal aspects of emergency eradication efforts related to the Japanese Beetle in Northern California.  The summary decision affected several different programs, including some of the work being done on ACP and HLB concerns in Southern California.

Industry groups such as California Citrus Mutual have issued announcements of encouragement regarding the ruling and are optimistic that a more permanent judgment will be made soon to allow the further continuance of pest prevention programs.