Legal Thought of the Day: No. 8

“The [Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937] contemplates a cooperative venture among the Secretary [of Agriculture], handlers [of milk products], and producers [of milk products], the principal purposes of which are to raise the price of agricultural products and to establish an orderly system of marketing them. Handlers and producers — but not consumers — are entitled to participate in the adoption and retention of market orders. The Act provides for agreements among the Secretary, producers, and handlers[;] for hearings among them[;] and for votes by producers and handlers. Nowhere in the Act, however, is there an express provision for participation by consumers in any proceeding. In a complex scheme of this type, the omission of such a provision is sufficient reason to believe that Congress intended to foreclose consumer participation in the regulatory process.

. . .

“Allowing consumers to sue the Secretary would severely disrupt this complex and delicate administrative scheme.”

~Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Block v. Community Nutrition Institute, 167 U.S. 340 (1984), explaining why the courts are permitted to review the prices that the Secretary of Agriculture sets for milk only if either milk producers or milk handlers bring such a suit. The Community Nutrition Institute brought a suit on behalf of consumers claiming that the Secretary priced reconstituted milk too high, and thereby deprived consumers of a source of less expensive milk.


One Response to Legal Thought of the Day: No. 8

  1. Nik Varrone says:

    Interesting Ag issue Tim.

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