317 U.S. 341 (1943), 1040, Parker v. Brown

Docket Nº:Argued May 5, 1942 (No. 1040, 1941 Term)
Citation:317 U.S. 341, 63 S.Ct. 307, 87 L.Ed. 315
Party Name:Parker v. Brown
Case Date:January 04, 1943
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 341

317 U.S. 341 (1943)

63 S.Ct. 307, 87 L.Ed. 315




Argued May 5, 1942 (No. 1040, 1941 Term)

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 4, 1943

No. 46

Reargued October 12, 13, 1942




1. A suit in a federal court to enjoin enforcement of a state agricultural proration program, in which the validity of the program is challenged as in conflict with federal antitrust laws, is a suit "arising under" a "law regulating commerce" and is maintainable without regard to the amount in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 41(1), (8). P. 349.

2. A majority of the Court are of opinion that this suit to enjoin enforcement of a marketing plan adopted under the California Agricultural Prorate Act is within the equity jurisdiction of the district court, since the complaint alleges and the evidence shows threatened irreparable injury to the complainant's business and threatened prosecutions by reason of his having marketed his crop under the protection of the district court's injunction. P. 349.

3. A prorate marketing program under the California Agricultural Prorate Act, adopted by the State for regulating the handling, disposition, and prices of raisins produced in California, a large part of which go into interstate and foreign commerce, held not within the intended scope of, and not a violation of, the Sherman Act. P. 350.

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4. A program pursuant to the California Agricultural Prorate Act for marketing the 1940 raisin crop, adopted with the collaboration of officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and aided by loans from the Commodity Credit Corporation recommended by the Secretary of Agriculture, held not in conflict with the federal Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, where the Secretary had not proposed or promulgated any order under that Act applicable to the marketing of raisins. Pp. 352, 358.

5. The marketing program for the 1940 raisin crop, adopted pursuant to the California Agricultural Prorate Act, the declared purpose of which is to "conserve the agricultural wealth of the State" and to "prevent economic waste in the marketing of agricultural products" of the State, and which operates to eliminate competition among producers in respect of the terms of sale (including the price) of the crop and to impose restrictions on the sale and distribution to buyers who subsequently sell and ship in interstate commerce, held a regulation of state industry of local concern which, in the circumstances detailed in the opinion, is not prohibited by the commerce clause in the absence of Congressional legislation prohibiting or regulating transactions affected by the state program. Pp. 359, 368.

(1) The restrictions which the state program imposes upon the intrastate sale of a commodity by its producer to a processor who contemplates doing, and, in fact, does, work upon the commodity before packing it and shipping it in interstate commerce do not violate the Commerce Clause. P. 359.

(2) Lemke v. Farmers Grain Co., 258 U.S. 50, and Shafer v Farmers Grain Co., 268 U.S. 189, distinguished. P. 361.

(3) When Congress has not exerted its power under the Commerce Clause, and state regulation of matters of local concern is so related to interstate commerce that it also operates as a regulation of that commerce, the reconciliation of such power of Congress with that reserved to the State is to be attained by the accommodation of the competing demands of the state and national interests involved. P. 362.

(4) State regulations affecting interstate commerce are to be sustained not because they are "indirect", rather than "direct," not because they affect, rather than command the operations of interstate commerce, but because, upon a consideration of all the relevant facts

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and circumstances, the matter appears an appropriate one for local regulations, for which there may be wide scope without materially obstruction the free flow of commerce. P. 362.

(5) Examination of the evidence in this case and of available data of the raisin industry in California, of which the Court may take judicial notice, leaves no doubt that the evils attending the production and marketing of raisins in that State present a problem local in character and urgently demanding state action for the economic protection of those engaged in one of its important industries. P. 363.

(6) Where the Secretary of Agriculture, who could have adopted a marketing program for raisins under the federal Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, has instead, as that Act authorizes, cooperated in promoting the state marketing program, the court cannot say that the effect of the state program on interstate commerce is one which the Commerce Clause forbids. And particularly should state regulation of local matters be sustained where its effect on commerce is one which it has been the policy of Congress, by its legislation, to encourage. P. 368.

39 F.Supp. 895, reversed.

APPEAL from a decree of a district court of three judges enjoining the enforcement, against the appellee, of a marketing program adopted pursuant to the California Agricultural Prorate Act.

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STONE, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The questions for our consideration are whether the marketing program adopted for the 1940 raisin crop under the California Agricultural Prorate Act1 is rendered invalid (1) by the Sherman Act, or (2) by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended, 7 U.S.C. §§ 601, et seq., or (3) by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Appellee, a producer and packer of raisins in California, brought this suit in the district court to enjoin appellants -- the State Director of Agriculture, Raisin Proration Zone No. 1, the members of the State Agricultural Prorate Advisory Commission and of the Program Committee for Zone No. 1, and others charged by the statute with the administration of the Prorate Act -- from enforcing, as to appellee, a program for marketing the 1940 crop of raisins produced in "Raisin Proration Zone No. 1." After a trial upon oral testimony, a stipulation of facts and certain exhibits, the district court held that the 1940 raisin marketing program was an illegal interference with and undue burden upon interstate commerce, and gave judgment for appellee granting the injunction prayed for. 39 F.Supp. 895. The case was tried by a district court of three judges,

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and comes here on appeal under §§ 266 and 238 of the Judicial Code as amended, 28 U.S.C. §§ 380, 345.

As appears from the evidence and from the findings of the district court, almost all the raisins consumed in the United States, and nearly one-half of the world crop, are produced in Raisin Proration Zone No. 1. Between 90 and 95 percent of the raisins grown in California are ultimately shipped in interstate or foreign commerce.

The harvesting and marketing of the crop in California follows a uniform procedure. [63 S.Ct. 311] The grower of raisins picks the bunches of grapes and places them for drying on trays laid between the rows of vines. When the grapes have been sufficiently dried, he places them in "sweat boxes" where their moisture content is equalized. At this point, the curing process is complete. The growers sell the raisins and deliver them in the "sweat boxes" to handlers or packers whose plants are all located within the Zone. The packers process them at their plants and then ship them in interstate commerce. Those raisins which are to be marketed in clusters are sometimes merely packed, unstemmed, in suitable containers, but are more often cleaned, fumigated, and, when necessary, steamed to make the stems pliable. Most of the raisins are not sold in clusters; such raisins are stemmed before packing, and most packers also clean, grade and sort them. One variety is also seeded before packing.

The packers sell their raisins through agents, brokers, jobbers and other middlemen, principally located in other states or foreign countries. Until he is ready to ship the raisins, the packer stores them in the form in which they have been received from producers. The length of time that the raisins remain at the packing plants before processing and shipping varies from a few days up to two years, depending upon the packer's current supply of raisins and the market demand. The packers frequently place orders with producers for fall delivery, before the

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crop is harvested, and at the same time enter into contracts for the sale of raisins to their customers. In recent years, most packers have had a substantial "carry over" of stored raisins at the end of each crop season, which are usually marketed before the raisins of the next year's crop are marketed.

The California Agricultural Prorate Act authorizes the establishment, through action of state officials, of programs for the marketing of agricultural commodities produced in the state, so as to restrict competition among the growers and maintain prices in the distribution of their commodities to packers. The declared purpose of the Act is to "conserve the agricultural wealth of the State" and to "prevent economic waste in the marketing of agricultural products" of the state. It authorizes ( § 3) the creation of an Agricultural Prorate Advisory Commission of nine members, of which a state official, the Director of Agriculture, is ex officio a member. The other eight members are appointed for terms of four years by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and are required to take an oath of office. § 4.

Upon the petition of ten producers for the establishment of a prorate marketing plan for any commodity within a defined production zone (§ 8), and after a public hearing (§ 9), and after making prescribed economic findings (§ 10) showing that the institution of a program for the proposed zone will...

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