Search warrants for potato pest ordered at E. Idaho farms

A federal judge has approved search warrants to take samples from fields in southeast Idaho after farmers refused to allow federal authorities to check for a microscopic potato pest.

The Post Register reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale on Friday denied a motion by farmers seeking to delay the testing until a related lawsuit is settled.

Some sampling was already carried out before Dale’s ruling, and additional soil samples are expected to be taken this week at the farms in Bingham County.

The discovery of the pale cyst nematode in Idaho in 2006 was the first detection of the pest in the United States, and authorities have been battling it ever since, including placing restrictions on infected fields.

The worms can reduce crop production by 80 percent.