Brannan v. Stark
342 U.S. 451 (1952)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Brannan v. Stark, 342 U.S. 451 (1952)

Brannan v. Stark

No. 6

Argued October 9, 1951

Decided March 3, 1952*

342 U.S. 451




Under § 8c of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, the Secretary of Agriculture promulgated an order regulating the marketing of milk in the Boston area. As amended in 1941, the order provided for fixing uniform prices to be paid to all producers and required that, in computing such uniform prices, certain amounts should be deducted for special payments to cooperative marketing associations. Claiming that this deduction and these payments to cooperatives unlawfully diverted funds which belonged to producers, certain producers who were not members of any cooperative sued to enjoin the Secretary from carrying out the provisions therefor.

Held: the provisions for such deduction and for such payments to cooperatives are invalid, because they are not authorized by the Act. Pp. 342 U. S. 452-466.

1. These provisions are not specifically authorized by any part of the Act. P. 342 U. S. 458.

2. Nor are they included within the authority granted by § 8c(7)(D), which authorizes provisions

"incidental to, and not inconsistent with, the terms and conditions specified in subsections (5), (6), and (7) and necessary to effectuate the other provisions of such order."

Pp. 342 U. S. 462-464.

(a) They are not "incidental to" the terms and conditions specified in subsections (5), (6), and (7). Pp. 342 U. S. 462-463.

(b) They are "inconsistent with" § 8c(5)(A), which provides that all handlers shall pay uniform prices for each class of milk, subject to certain adjustments not here pertinent. P. 342 U. S. 463.

(c) They are "inconsistent with" § 8c(5)(B), which requires the payment of uniform prices to all producers for all milk delivered, subject to certain adjustments not here pertinent. Pp. 342 U. S. 463-464.

Page 342 U. S. 452

3. Nor are these provisions authorized by § 10(b)(1) directing the Secretary to accord "recognition and encouragement" to cooperative marketing associations. P. 342 U. S. 464.

4. Nor is a different result required by the legislative history or administrative construction. Pp. 342 U. S. 465-466.

87 U.S.App.D.C. 388, 185 F.2d 871, affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion. The judgment below is affirmed, p. 342 U. S. 466.

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This action by dairy farmers, nonmembers of cooperative associations, concerns 1941 amendments to an order of the Secretary of Agriculture dealing with the marketing of milk in the Boston area. It was previously here as Stark v. Wickard,321 U. S. 288 (1944), where it was held that the respondents had such an interest in the Order as to give them legal standing to object to those of its provisions here under attack. Upon remand, the provisions were held invalid by the District Court, 82 F.Supp. 614, and that decision was affirmed in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 87 U.S.App.D.C.

Page 342 U. S. 453

388, 185 F.2d 871. We granted certiorari. 341 U.S. 908.

The question now presented is whether those amendments to the Order which provide for certain payments to cooperative associations are within the authority granted the Secretary by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. [Footnote 1] The respondents seek to enjoin the enforcement of the provisions in question.

The purpose of the Act and the nature of the Secretary's Order No. 4 thereunder [Footnote 2] are set out in some detail in Stark v. Wickard, supra, at 321 U. S. 291-302. It is here sufficient to note the following aspects of Order No. 4, as amended: in the Order, issued pursuant to the Act, the Secretary divided all milk marketed in the Greater Boston area into Class I, which is sold as fluid milk, and Class II, which is used for other purposes, such as the manufacture of butter and cheese. The Order provides for the fixing of minimum prices to be paid by handlers for each of these classes of milk. Each handler pays for milk in accordance with the amount of each class he has purchased. Producers, however, are paid the same price for milk delivered, no matter what use is made of the particular milk by the handler. The Market Administrator computes, on the basis of prices paid by handlers, the value of all milk sold in the area each month. After making certain adjustments, he divides that value, as adjusted, by the total quantity of milk sold in the area during the month, to determine the "blended price," which is the price actually paid the producer. One adjustment made in determining the "blended price" is

Page 342 U. S. 454

the deduction providing for the disputed payments to cooperatives. [Footnote 3] This deduction is thus "a burden on every area sale." Stark v. Wickard, supra, at 321 U. S. 303.

"Apparently [it] is the only deduction that is an unrecoverable charge against the producers. The other items deducted under [the Order] are for a revolving fund or to meet differentials in price because of location, seasonal delivery, et cetera."

Id. 321 U.S. at 321 U. S. 301. The effect of the deduction and the correlative payments to cooperatives is to reduce the amount which producers such as respondents, who are not members of cooperatives, would otherwise receive for their milk, and to increase correspondingly

Page 342 U. S. 455

the receipts of cooperatives. [Footnote 4] We must determine whether the Secretary was authorized by the statute to include the provisions requiring this deduction and these payments in the Order. No question is presented as to the adequacy of the evidence to support the findings of the Secretary, but, rather, a question as to the power granted the Secretary by Congress.

The disputed provisions were introduced into the Boston Order in 1941, after hearings called by the Secretary. Affidavits, filed by representatives of the Secretary in support of his motion for summary judgment in the District Court, show the following: a major issue at the hearings was the amount of a uniform allowance, previously 26

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