California’s Department of Food and Agriculture cannot implement a statewide program to address pest infestations, after a state judge issued an injunction late last week. The judge had issued an opinion in January that found deficiencies in CDFA’s environmental assessment of the program, which allowed the department to spray on both public and private land, including parks and residential areas. CDFA said it is considering an appeal but “will comply with the judge’s decision and conduct any future program activities in compliance with (the California Environmental Quality Act) as necessary.” The assessment at issue did not adequately consider the cumulative impacts of the program, Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley said in his January opinion, “improperly ignored potentially significant impacts to pollinators,” and relied on “unsupported assumptions and speculation” to conclude that pesticides “would not reach water bodies in any detectable concentration.” The Los Angeles Times reported that the decision “could throw a substantial hurdle in front of (the department’s) efforts … to control dozens of crop-damaging pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid,” which has been devastating to the citrus industry in Florida. Environmental groups hailed the decision, saying it gives CDFA an opportunity to look at non-chemical means of controlling pests.
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