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Judge: US illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields infested with a microscopic pest that could threaten the state’s $1.2 billion potato industry.

But U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge left the restrictions in place because lifting them could lead to quarantines across a state that produces a third of the nation’s potatoes.

The discovery of the pale cyst nematode in 2006 was the pest’s first appearance in the United States and temporarily shut down some of Idaho’s overseas exports. The worms feed at the roots of potato plants.

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Some farmers sued in 2015 to end the restrictions.

The judge decided last week that the federal government rolled out the quarantine without sufficient public input. His order makes the rules temporary until U.S. officials redo the process.

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