The Center for Food Safety, Center for Environmental Health and Beyond Pesticides have filed a lawsuit against the leaders of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service and National Organic Program (NOP) arguing that USDA failed to allow public comments on a contaminated-compost rule before issuing a guidance document on the subject. Ctr. for Envtl. Health v. Vilsack, No. 15-1690 (N.D. Cal., filed April 14, 2015). The 2011 guidance at issue allows organic producers to use compost materials treated with pesticides.
According to the complaint, “NOP regulations expressly prohibit fertilizers and compost from containing any synthetic substances not included on the National List” of approved exceptions, but the Contaminated-Compost decision “contravened that legal requirement, purporting to establish that organic producers may in fact use these contaminated plant and animal materials in compost under certain circumstances.” The decision was never subject to public comment, the plaintiffs argue, and thus violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). They implore the court to enjoin USDA from authorizing the use of compost with prohibited substances, invalidate the Contaminated- Compost decision and require the agency to follow APA regulations on public comment periods.