(CN) – California almond growers can challenge a federal restriction against the sale of raw almonds, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
Nick Koretoff Ranches and nine other almond producers filed a protest in federal court against a 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture rule requiring U.S. farmers to pasteurize their almonds to prevent salmonella outbreaks.
The California farmers said the rule was unfair, because foreign companies can import raw almonds without such restrictions.
Rather than debating the merits of the rule, the USDA argued that the growers lacked standing to challenge the rule under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937.
A federal judge ruled for the government, but the Washington, D.C.-based appeals court reversed, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Stark v. Wickard and Block v. Community Nutrition Institute.
“Stark and Block together indicate that producers can sue to challenge agricultural marketing orders, but consumers cannot,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote.
The 10 producers are now free to challenge the rule directly in district court.