Just-A-Mere Farm, Inc. v. Peet, JUST-A-MERE

CourtSupreme Court of Oregon
Writing for the CourtBefore PERRY; O'CONNELL
Citation247 Or. 413,430 P.2d 987
PartiesFARM, INC., Appellant, v. J. N. PEET, Department of Employment Commissioner, Respondent.
Docket NumberJUST-A-MERE
Decision Date23 August 1967

Gerson F. Goldsmith, Portland, argued the cause for appellant. On the briefs were Goldsmith, Siegel & Goldsmith, Portland.

George L. Evans, Asst. Atty. Gen., Salem, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Robert Y. Thornton, Atty. Gen., and E. Nordyke, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Chief Counsel for the Department of Employment Commissioner, Salem.

Before PERRY, C.J., and McALLISTER, SLOAN, O'CONNELL, GOODWIN, DENECKE and LUSK, JJ.

O'CONNELL, Justice.

Plaintiff appeals from a decree affirming the decision of the Department of Employment finding that services performed by plaintiff's employees constituted employment within the meaning of the Department of Employment Law (ORS Ch. 657).

Plaintiff is an Oregon corporation which owns 900 acres of land of which 330 acres are in cultivation. The remaining portion is forest land. Except for a family garden and family orchard, all of the cultivated land is planted to forest-type trees for the purpose of eventually producing commercial timber. The major portion of the services of plaintiff's employees is related to the tree-growing enterprise, including the preparation and cultivation of the soil, the suppression of grass, the planting of seedling trees, spraying, and maintaining the machinery used in these operations.

Plaintiff contends that the services performed in connection with the raising of trees under the circumstances described above constituted 'agricultural labor' which is expressly excluded from the employment covered by the Department of Employment Law.

ORS 657.045 provides as follows:

'(1) 'Employment' does not include agricultural labor.

'(2) 'Agricultural labor' includes all services performed:

'(a) On a farm, in the employ of any person, in connection with cultivating the soil, or in connection with raising or harvesting any agricultural or horticultural commodity, including the raising, shearing, feeding, caring for, training and management of livestock, bees, poultry and fur-bearing animals and wildlife.

'(b) In the employ of the owner or tenant or other operator of a farm, in connection with the operation, management, conversation, improvement or maintenance of such farm and its tools and equipment, or in salvaging timber or clearing land of brush and other debris left by a hurricane, if the major part of such services is performed on a farm.

'(c) In connection with the production or harvesting of maple syrup or maple sugar or any commodity defined as an agricultural commodity in section 15(g) of the Federal Agricultural Marketing Act, as amended, or in connection with the raising or harvesting of mushrooms, or in connection with the hatching of poultry, or in connection with the ginning of cotton, or in connection with the operation or maintenance of ditches, canals, reservoirs or waterways used exclusively for supplying and storing water for farming purposes.

'(d) In handling, planting, drying, packing, packaging, processing, freezing, grading, storing or delivering to storage or to market or to a carrier for transportation to market, any agricultural or horticultural commodity, but only if such service is performed as an incident to ordinary farming operations, or, in the case of fruits and vegetables, as an incident to the preparation of such fruits or vegetables for market. This paragraph does not apply to service performed in connection with commercial canning or commercial freezing or brining of cherries or in connection with any agricultural or horticultural commodity after its delivery to a terminal market for distribution for consumption.

'(3) 'Farms,' as used in this section, includes stock, dairy, poultry, fruit, furbearing animal and truck farms, plantations, ranches, nurseries, ranges, greenhouses or other similar structures used primarily for the raising of agricultural or horticultural commodities, and orchards.'

We begin our inquiry into the meaning of the 'term 'agricultural labor' and 'farm' as used in ORS 657.045 fully cognizant of the fact that the meaning of words must be derived from the purpose for which they are used. The legislative history of the Oregon Department of Employment Law and the related federal unemployment legislation throws little light upon the purpose for excluding agricultural labor from the coverage of the respective acts. Nor is there anything in the legislative history which directly indicates a purpose either to exclude or include the growing of commercial timber in the legislation on unemployment compensation. 1

In H. Duys & So. v. Tone, 125 Conn. 300, 5 A.2d 23 at 25--26 (1939) the court, in searching for the legislative purpose in excluding agricultural labor, observed that:

'* * * The reason assigned in the reports of the congressional committees was 'difficulties in collecting the tax.' House Report No. 615, p. 33, Senate Report 628, p. 45, 74th Congress, 1st Session.'

The court went on to say:

'* * * Intimation to the same effect is afforded in Carmichael v. Southern Coal & Coke Co., 301 U.S. 495, 57 S.Ct. 868, 81 L.Ed. 1245, 109 A.L.R. 1327, concerning the Alabama Unemployment Compensation Act, wherein it is said (page 513, 57 S.Ct. page 874): 'Administrative considerations may explain several exemptions. Relatively great expense and inconvenience of collection may justify the exemption from taxation of domestic employers (also exempted in the same action of the federal and state acts), farmers, and family businesses, not likely to...

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11 cases
  • Bresgal v. Brock, s. 86-3996
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 31, 1988
    ...us today. Several state law cases discuss the relationship between forestry workers and agriculture. In Just-A-Mere Farm, Inc. v. Peet, 247 Or. 413, 430 P.2d 987 (1967), the Oregon Supreme Court, in examining a similarly worded statute, 1 held Although, with the development of selective cut......
  • Bresgal v. Brock, s. 86-3996
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • November 18, 1987
    ...us today. Several state law cases discuss the relationship between forestry workers and agriculture. In Just-A-Mere Farm, Inc. v. Peet, 247 Or. 413, 430 P.2d 987 (1967), the Oregon Supreme Court, in examining a similarly worded statute, 1 held Although, with the development of selective cut......
  • Klamath Irrigation Dist. v. Employment Division
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • June 24, 1975
    ...supra. The referee relied on Standard Oil Co. of Louisiana v. Fontenot, 198 La. 644, 4 So.2d 634 (1941), and Just-A-Mere Farm v. Peet, 247 Or. 413, 430 P.2d 987 (1967). For reasons that are explained infra, we think the rules of these cases were The first case involved a license tax and in ......
  • Ochoa v. Weisensee Ranch, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Oregon
    • October 26, 1988
    ..."with the production and sale of that which the land yields annually in the form of crops and animals." Just-A-Mere Farm v. Peet, 247 Or. 413, 419, 430 P.2d 987 (1967). (Tree-growing for lumber enterprise was not farming as that term is understood in common parlance and, therefore, plaintif......
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