(Dec. 9) A lawsuit will be pursued against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow Spanish clementines to be imported the U.S. in mid-October.

The boards of directors for California Citrus Mutual and the California Grape & Tree Fruit League have jointly agreed that the Oct. 15 rule Spanish clementine imports is not supported by sufficient science to adequately protect California producers, according to a news release.

In early December 2001, the USDA had stopped all Spanish clementine imports after multiple finds of live Medfly larvae in Spanish clementine shipments.

“Since the issuance of the rule we have been examining the language, the science and the protective measures for our producer members,” said Richard Matoian, president of the Freno-based league.

“It is our conclusion that it is flawed and therefore leaves our respective members vulnerable to medfly introduction which is unacceptable.”

The specific areas of concern are risk, exclusion and inspection.

“Already two instances of a breakdown have occurred,” said Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual. He noted that fruit was distributed in Florida, which is prohibited by the rule, and two containers were found not to be adequately cold treated.

Both groups said the UDSA acted appropriately when the Medfly larvae were discovered, but said the agency acted too quickly in revising rules that set the rules for a resumption of Spanish clementine imports.