332 U.S. 380 (1947), 45, Federal Crop Insurance Corp v. Merrill

Docket Nº:No. 45
Citation:332 U.S. 380, 68 S.Ct. 1, 92 L.Ed. 10
Party Name:Federal Crop Insurance Corp v. Merrill
Case Date:November 10, 1947
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 380

332 U.S. 380 (1947)

68 S.Ct. 1, 92 L.Ed. 10

Federal Crop Insurance Corp



No. 45

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 10, 1947

Argued October 16, 1947



1. The Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, a wholly governmentowned corporation created by the Federal Crop Insurance Act to insure producers of wheat against crop losses due to unavoidable causes, including drought, promulgated and published in the Federal Register regulations specifying the conditions on which it would insure wheat crops, including a provision making "spring wheat which has been reseeded on winter wheat acreage" ineligible for insurance. Without actual knowledge of this provision, a wheat grower applied to the Corporation's local agent for insurance on his wheat crop, informing the local agent that most of it was being reseeded on winter wheat acreage, but this information was not included in the written application. The Corporation accepted the application subject to the terms of its regulations. Most of the crop on the reseeded acreage was destroyed by drought.

Held: the Corporation is not liable for the loss on the reseeded acreage. Pp. 381-386.

Page 381

2. Having been published in the Federal Register, the Wheat Crop Insurance Regulations are binding on all who seek to come within the Federal Crop Insurance Act, regardless of lack of actual knowledge of the regulations. P. 385.

67 Idaho 196, 174 P.2d 834, reversed.

The Supreme Court of Idaho affirmed a judgment against the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for loss of a wheat crop which had been reseeded on winter wheat acreage. 67 Idaho 196, 174 P.2d 834. This Court granted certiorari. 331 U.S. 798. Reversed, p. 386.

FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We brought this case here because it involves a question of importance in the administration of the Federal Crop Insurance Act. 331 U.S. 798.

The relevant facts may be briefly stated. Petitioner (hereinafter called the Corporation) is a wholly Government-owned enterprise, created by the Federal Crop Insurance Act, as an "agency of and within the Department of Agriculture." Sec. 503 of Chapter 30, Act of February 16, 1938, 52 Stat. 72, 7 U.S.C. § 1503, as amended. To carry out the purposes of the Act, the Corporation, "Commencing with the wheat . . . crops planted for harvest in 1945," is empowered

to insure, upon such terms and conditions not inconsistent with the provisions of this title as it may determine, producers of wheat . . . against loss in yields due to unavoidable causes, including drought. . . .

52 Stat. 74, § 508(a), as

Page 382

amended, 55 Stat. 255, in turn amended by the Act of December 23, 1944, Chapter 713, 58 Stat. 918, 7 U.S.C.Supp. V, § 1508(a). In pursuance of its authority, the Corporation, on February 5, 1945, promulgated its Wheat Crop Insurance Regulations, which were duly published in the Federal Register on February 7, 1945. 10 F.R. 1586.

On March 26, 1945, respondents applied locally for insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act to cover wheat farming operations in Bonneville County, Idaho. Respondents informed the Bonneville County Agricultural Conservation Committee, acting as agent for the Corporation, that they were planting 460 acres of spring wheat, and that, on 400 of these acres, they were reseeding on winter wheat acreage. The Committee advised respondents that the entire crop was insurable, and recommended to the Corporation's Denver Branch Office acceptance of the application. (The formal application itself did not disclose that any part of the insured crop was reseeded.) On May 28, 1945, the Corporation accepted the application.

In July, 1945, most of the respondents' crop was destroyed by drought. Upon being notified, the Corporation, after...

To continue reading