The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued a temporary stay of Judge White’s order of November 30, 2010 to destroy sugarbeet stecklings (seedlings) planted in accordance with permits issued by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in early September. This practical decision by the appellate court indicates the interests of the seed companies and farmers will receive serious consideration.
The stay, which extends through December 23, 2010, provides additional time for the appellate court to consider briefings filed by USDA and interveners to overturn the preliminary injunction entered by the district court. We believe APHIS’s granting of the permits was both a lawful and measured action supported by both past APHIS practice and established procedures, as well as USDA’s analysis in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Plant Protection Act.
While the scope of the appeal of Judge White’s injunction in this case is limited to the late-season and isolated planting of sugar beet seedlings that was authorized in September under permits issued by APHIS, the Ninth Circuit has consolidated with this appeal the USDA’s appeal of Judge White’s original Order requiring that the APHIS prepare an Environmental Impact Statement prior to deregulating Roundup Ready sugarbeets. The Court’s ruling does not affect the 2010 Roundup Ready® sugar beet seed crop that was planted earlier in the year prior to the September permits. Stecklings produced in 2010 could be utilized to produce seed that could ultimately be available for root crop growers in the 2012 season, or could be used as material for further breeding of improved varieties. This litigation is unrelated to the pending USDA decision on whether to allow the Roundup Ready sugar beet crop that farmers hope to plant in 2011.