In the dispute over the off-and-on quotas for selling navel oranges and lemons, some independent growers and fruit handlers are asking that the quotas be lifted once more.
James A. Moody, an attorney representing two groups of California and Arizona citrus growers and handlers, said Tuesday he will go to court today to ask a Washington judge to reverse a decision made last week.
On Dec. 17, U.S. District Judge Gerherd Gesell issued a temporary restraining order barring the U.S. Agriculture Department from going ahead with plans to suspend the marketing orders, which determine how many cartons of California- and Arizona-grown navel oranges and lemons a packing house can ship each week. Gesell ordered another hearing Dec. 29.
Sunkist, the large Sherman Oaks-based cooperative that represents about 60% of the two states' citrus growers, asked for the restraining order, contending that Agriculture Secretary Edward R. Madigan bowed to White House pressure when he announced on Dec. 14 his decision to suspend the quotas.
The groups Moody represents, Growers for Modern Marketing and the Farmers Alliance, say the pro-rated marketing orders are unfair to smaller growers and handlers. Moody said he was not notified of the Dec. 17 hearing and will ask Gesell to consider the harm being done to growers and shippers by reimposing the quotas.
Moody said buyers had been placing larger than usual orders for citrus in the last few days, after Madigan's announcement that the quotas were being lifted.
"There's going to be a lot of overshipments now," he said.
While Sunkist and others say the orders provide stability to growers, laborers and consumers, the opponents of the orders say they force growers to allow excess fruit to rot or be sold in less-lucrative juice or overseas markets.
A Sunkist representative said this week that the cooperative had no information about Moody's planned appeal.