A California federal court has denied the U.S. Department of Agricul- ture’s (USDA’s) motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by several activist groups challenging aspects of the Organic Food Production Act’s sunset provision, which governs when substances are removed from the National List. Ctr. for Food Safety v. Vilsack, No. 15-1590 (N.D. Cal., order entered September 8, 2016). The plaintiffs objected to how USDA changed the process to remove a substance from the List, which docu- ments permitted synthetic substances and prohibited non-synthetic substances in the production of organic food. Details about the complaint appear in Issue 561 of this Update.
The court first determined that the plaintiff groups had standing to sue, then considered whether it had subject matter jurisdiction. USDA argued the sunset notice changes were not part of a final agency action, but the court determined the question of jurisdiction and the merits of the action were so intertwined as to prevent dismissal at this stage.