ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Organic farmers and environmentalists are challenging California’s strategy on pesticides and crop pests.

More than 30 organic groups, environmental organizations and regional water boards registered concerns over the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s pest-management plan by the Oct. 31 deadline.

Watsonvile apple-producer Zea Sonnabend say California is ignoring the economic harm that compulsory state pesticide spraying would cause. Sonnabend says she and many other organic growers would rather go out of business than grow crops using pesticide.

Food and Agriculture spokesman Steve Lyle says the plan doesn’t assume any new powers.

California citrus-industry representative Joel Nelsen says a comprehensive treatment program that includes pesticides is necessary to handle pests like the one threatening the state’s $2.4 billion citrus industry.

California is the country’s top agriculture and organic agriculture state by dollar value.