South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Regulators Followed Statutory Guidelines; Did Not Need Further Risk Assessment

Appeals court upheld a USDA regulation to allow the importation of citrus from Spain, which had previously been barred due to infestation by destructive insects. Challenges by domestic fruit growers were rejected as USDA followed statutory guidelines and had no obligation to do further risk assessment as contended by opponents.

Topic Administrative Law
Key Words

Imports; Agricultural Products; Risk Assessment

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

The Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) is very destructive to citrus. Its larvae were discovered in citrus from Spain in 2001. The U.S. Department of Agriculture halted all shipments of clementine mandarin oranges from Spain. Later, USDA issued a rule that would permit imports to resume, subject to compliance with certain precautions by the importers. California fruit growers challenged the regulation, contending that if the medfly infected California, it could do billions of dollars of damage to the state’s crops. They contended that USDA had not done sufficient analysis of the risks involved. The district court dismissed the suit; plaintiffs appealed.


Affirmed. The regulation issued by the USDA, under the Plant Protection Act, was supported by underlying factual determination. The decision was not arbitrary and capricious. Under the Act, USDA was not required to quantify a permissible level of risk or to conduct a risk assessment prior to issuing a final rule concerning imports of clementines.


Cactus Corner, LLC v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 450 F.3d 428 (9th Cir., 2006)

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