Mississippi Milk Commission v. Vance, 41924

Decision Date24 April 1961
Docket NumberNo. 41924,41924
Citation129 So.2d 642,240 Miss. 814
PartiesMISSISSIPPI MILK COMMISSION v. W. F. VANCE and L. B. Vance, d.b.a. Vance Dairy, et al.
CourtMississippi Supreme Court

John L. Hatcher, Cleveland, W. E. McIntyre, Jr., Brandon, for appellant.

Edward J. Currie, Sr., Alfred Moore, Hattiesburg, Wells, Thomas & Wells, Jackson, for appellees.

Ray M. Stewart, Picayune, amicus curiae.

LEE, Presiding Justice.

This is an appeal by the Mississippi Milk Commission from a final decree of the Chancery Court of Forrest County, which held that Section 15, Chapter 155, Laws of 1960, on its face and in its application, insofar as the fixing of maximum and minimum prices of milk is concerned, is in violation of Sections 14, 16 and 17, Article III, of the Constitution of this State.

The litigation arose in this manner: The Legislature, at its regular session in 1960, enacted Senate Bill No. 1757, Chapter 155, which was styled in part: 'An Act to create a commission designated as the Mississippi Milk Commission to supervise and regulate the production, transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of fluid milk and to regulate the dairy industry; to provide for the licensing of producer distributors, dealers or handlers, and retail stores dealing in fluid milk; to regulate and fix minimum prices for fluid milk at the producer level, and minimum and maximum prices at the wholesale and retail levels; to provide for the raising of funds for the administration of this act and defraying the cost and expenses thereof; to impose penalties for the violation of the act and rules and regulations lawfully issued thereunder; * * * and for other purposes.'

By Section 1 of the Act, the statement of legislative policy was declared as follows:

'(a) That milk is a necessary article of food for human consumption.

'(b) That the production and maintenance of an adequate supply of healthful milk of proper chemical and physical content free from contamination, is vital to the public health and welfare.

'(c) That the production, transportation, processing, storage, distribution, and sale of milk, in the State of Mississippi, is an industry affecting the public health and interest.

'(d) That unfair, unjust, destructive, and demoralizing trade practices have been and are now being carried on in the production, transportation, processing, storage, distribution, and sale of milk, which trade practices constitute a constant menace to the health and welfare of the inhabitants of this State.

'(e) That health regulations alone are insufficient to prevent disturbances in the milk industry and to insure the consuming public an adequate supply of this necessary commodity.

'(f) That it is the policy of this State to promote, foster and encourage the intelligent production and orderly marketing of fluid milk and cream; to eliminate speculation and waste, and to make the distribution thereof between the producer and consumer as efficient and economical as possible, and to stabilize the marketing of such commodities.

'(g) That investigations have revealed and experience has shown, that due to the nature of milk and the conditions surrounding the production and marketing of milk, and due to the vital importance of milk to the health and well being of the citizens of this State, it is necessary to invoke the police powers of the State to provide a constant supervision and regulation of the milk industry of the State to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of those unfair, unjust, destructive, demoralizing and chaotic conditions and trade practices within the industry, and in the retail grocery trade which have in the past affected the industry and the retail grocery trade, and which constantly threaten to be revived within the industry and the retail grocery trade, and to disrupt or destroy an adequate supply of pure and wholesome milk to the consuming public and to the citizens of this State.

'(h) That fluid milk is a perishable commodity, which cannot be stored for any great length of time, which must be produced and distributed fresh daily and the supply of which cannot be regulated from day to day, and due to natural and seasonal conditions cannot be produced on a constantly uniform and even basis.

'(i) That the demand for this perishable commodity fluctuates from day to day and from time to time making it necessary that the producers and milk dealers or handlers shall produce and carry on hand a surplus of milk in order to guarantee and insure to the consuming public an adequate supply at all times, which surplus must of necessity be converted into by-products of milk at great expense and ofttimes at a loss to the producer and milk dealer or handler.

'(j) That this surplus of milk, though necessary and unavoidable, unless regulated, tends to undermine and destroy the fluid milk industry, which causes producers to relax their diligence in complying with the provisions of the health authorities and ofttimes to produce milk of an inferior and unsanitary quality.

'(k) That investigation and experience have further shown that, due to the nature of milk and the conditions surrounding its production and marketing, unless the producers, milk dealers or handlers and others engaged in the marketing of milk are guaranteed and insured a reasonable and fair return on milk, both the supply and quality of milk is affected to the detriment of, and against the best interest of the citizens of this State whose health and well-being is thereby vitally affected.

'(l) That, where no supervision and regulation is provided for the orderly and economical marketing of milk, past experience has shown that the credit status of both producers and milk dealers or handlers of milk is adversely affected to a serious degree thereby entailing loss and hardship upon all within the community with whom these producers and distributors carry on business relations.'

Section 15 thereof, which deals with the designation of marketing areas and the fixing of prices for milk, provides as follows:

'(a) The Commission shall ascertain after a hearing in which all interested persons shall be given reasonable opportunity to be heard, the logical and reasonable milk marketing areas within the State shall describe the territorial limit thereof and shall designate such areas by name or number, provided, however, that the Commission may determine that the State of Mississippi is one natural milk marketing area. The Commission in its discretion may increase or decrease the number of milk marketing areas, combine one or more milk marketing areas or alter the boundaries of milk marketing areas in order to carry out the purposes of this Act.

'(b) The Commission shall investigate the costs and charges for producing, hauling, bottling, packaging, distributing, processing and marketing of milk and other services performed in relation to milk and determine what are the reasonable charges and cost therefor, and investigate and determine what prices are reasonable for milk produced, marketed and sold in the various locations and markets in the State and what prices will, under the various and varying conditions existing in the different locations and markets within the State best insure a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome milk to the inhabitants of the State and a fair return to the members of the dairy industry and be most in the public interest. In its determination, the Commission shall take into consideration the balance between production and consumption of milk, the cost of production and distribution in the marketing of milk, both wholesale and retail and the purchasing power of the consuming public in the various localities and markets throughout the State.

'(c) The Commission shall hold public hearings and hear evidence under oath relative to the prices to be fixed for the sale of milk and the charges for handling, transportation and processing of milk in the area, after first publishing a notice of the hearing and the purposes thereof once each week for three weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in the area. At such hearing, persons engaged in the dairy industry, persons who operate stores, members of the consuming public and any other persons who have information pertinent to the subjects under consideration, and any persons whose testimony is desired by the Commission, may give testimony under oath relative to prices and charges to be fixed. Any official publication of the United States Department of Agriculture, and any bulletins, computations, announcements, or other official publications of any Federal Milk Market Administrator, and any official publication or record of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce of the State of Mississippi or the equivalent officer of other states, and of similar milk commissions of other states which is pertinent to the fixing of prices and charges in the marketing area may be admitted in evidence and made a part of the record of hearing at the discretion of the Commission. The testimony of record taken in any other hearing in the State may also be considered provided a copy of the record is made available during the hearing for examination by all interested parties and is made a part of the current hearing record by reference. A stenographic record shall be taken of the testimony and evidence received at the hearing shall be transcribed and kept on file in the office of the Commission and open to public inspection. Any person may obtain a copy of the record by ordering same from the reporter not later than the last day of the hearing and paying the reporter for same at the rate fixed by law for records of trials transcribed by court reporters.

'(d) After consideration of the evidence made of record in a hearing or hearings the Commission shall file at its office for each order issued a general statement in writing of the findings of fact in support of and the reason for such order and shall fix...

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    ...exercise of the police power. Superior Oil Co. v. Foote, 214 Miss. at 876, 59 So.2d at 93; Mississippi Milk Commission v. Vance, 240 Miss. 814 at 857, 129 So.2d 642 at 661 (1961). The Supreme Court of the United States has likewise recognized that the prohibitions of the facially absolute C......
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