April 20, 2010 – The California Association of Nurseries and
Garden Centers (CANGC) and the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN)
successfully resolved a federal lawsuit against South Carolina on Monday. The two associations
filed their lawsuit on March 10 challenging a regulation that disrupted
shipments of plant material from California and Oregon growers. South Carolina
chose to rescind the contested regulation rather than fight in court. Shipments
of nursery products are expected to resume immediately.
The suit stemmed from actions South Carolina
took last year. In 2009, the South Carolina Assembly enacted a regulation that
prevented California and Oregon growers from shipping plants that could be host
to a plan disease known as Phytophthora ramorum (sometimes referred to as
Sudden Oak Death). The regulation required nurseries in California, Oregon, and
Washington to perform special inspections, provide extra documentation, and
give advance notice for all shipments.
Such requirements are illegal under the
federal Plant Protection Act and unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of
the U.S. Constitution when a federal agency’s valid order has been established
to govern interstate shipments. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS) has regulated Phytophthora ramorum since 2002 in an effort to
prevent its spread.
Word that South Carolina would rescind its
regulation and stop enforcement was well received by the plaintiffs. “We
believe strong, effective federal regulation is of paramount importance on
matters related to plant pests and disease," said OAN executive director
John Aguirre. "If the principle of federal preemption had been undermined,
then the door would swing open to a patchwork of regulation among the states
and marketplace chaos would ensue."
Robert Dolezal, CANGC’s executive vice-president shared Aguirre’s view. “Shipping healthy plants makes good business
sense and protects the environment,” he said. “California is the nation’s number
one shipper of nursery products to other states, and we are the number one
consumer of other states’ plants. Our record is outstanding. It’s now a matter
of precedent for South Carolina to conduct its business using the same
standards as the other 49 states.”
In 2004, CANGC successfully sued the State of Kentucky under
similar circumstances to South Carolina’s actions. “We hope that South
Carolina’s decision to strike down its own regulation in the face of our
lawsuit will send a clear message to any other states that might consider such
an action,” Dolezal said.
For more information about Phytophthora
ramorum, go to http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/pram/index.shtml.
The California Association of Nurseries and
Garden Centers was founded in 1911 as a statewide trade organization for
nursery growers. It is headquartered in Sacramento, California. California
nurseries and floriculture producers are the second largest agricultural
commodity produced in the Golden State, after dairy products. The Association
is the primary advocate for the California nursery community in Sacramento and
Washington, D.C. For information, visit www.cangc.org .
The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville,
represents more than 1,300 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and
suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is among the state's
largest agricultural commodities, with annual sales of $820 million. More than
80 per cent of the nursery plants grown in Oregon are shipped out of state. For
information, visit www.oan.org .