United States v. Watkins

Decision Date17 January 1957
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 3243.
Citation147 F. Supp. 786
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Oscar WATKINS, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Arkansas

Osro Cobb, U. S. Atty., Ralph M. Sloan, Asst. U. S. Atty., Little Rock, Ark., for plaintiff.

Lonzo A. Ross, Conway, Ark., for defendant.

LEMLEY, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court upon the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and the defendant's response thereto, which response amounts to a cross motion for summary judgment in his favor. Said motions have been submitted upon the pleadings, certain affidavits, and written briefs, from a consideration of which we are of the opinion that the case presents no genuine factual issues, and that the plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56, F.R. Civ.P., 28 U.S.C.A.

The plaintiff brought this action to recover from the defendant the sum of $185.85 plus interest as a penalty due from the defendant on account of his having produced on his farm in Faulkner County, Arkansas in 1955, a year with respect to which cotton marketing quotas were in effect under the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, as amended,1 seven acres of cotton without having an acreage allotment therefor. The relevant facts in the case are as follows:

The defendant operates a 132½ acre farm in Faulkner County which farm, as indicated, had no cotton acreage allotment for 1955; notwithstanding this fact, the defendant planted seven acres of cotton thereon and carried it to maturity. On August 5, 1955 the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Committee of Faulkner County, Arkansas, which was, in accordance with the statute and pertinent regulations, administering the cotton program in that County, determined that the defendant's allotted cotton acreage was zero, that he had planted 8.5 acres of cotton, and that his excess acreage amounted to 8.5 acres. On September 15, 1955 defendant's cotton was re-measured, and it was determined that he had only 7 acres in cotton; it was further determined that the normal yield of this acreage was 150 pounds of lint cotton per acre, that the defendant's "farm marketing excess" was 1050 pounds of lint cotton, which would be subject to a penalty of $185.85. The defendant was notified of these determinations, and was advised that he should dispose of his excess acreage within a certain period of time and that if he did not do so he would be subject to a penalty on his "farm marketing excess" at the rate of 50% of the parity price of cotton on June 15, 1956; he was also advised of his rights of administrative review of the determinations that have been mentioned.2 The defendant sought no review of the actions of the County Committee and took no steps to destroy his cotton acreage; on the other hand, at some undisclosed time between September 15 and December 6, 1955 he picked three or four hundred pounds of cotton, which he poured out on the ground at the ends of the rows; he then turned his cattle into the field and permitted them to eat not only the cotton that had been picked but also the cotton that was still attached to the stalks.3 Thereafter, demand was made on the defendant for the penalty on his "farm marketing excess," and such demand having been refused, this suit followed.

In resisting the demand of the plaintiff the defendant does not challenge the administrative determinations of the County Committee relative to his excess acreage, or to his farm marketing excess, nor does he question the calculations by which the amount of penalty was determined. He does contend, however, that he did not harvest or market any cotton produced on his land, and for that reason is not subject to penalty. In answer to that contention the plaintiff asserts that not having disposed of his cotton acreage within the time prescribed by the regulations he is liable for the penalty regardless of whether he harvested or marketed any of the cotton or not; and it contends, further, in the alternative that it appears affirmatively and without question from his affidavit that has been mentioned and from a written statement that he gave to a representative of the County Committee on December 6, 1955,4 that he did harvest a substantial portion of his crop, and that having done so, he became liable for the entire penalty.

In order to correctly determine these conflicting contentions it is necessary to consider the governing statutory and regulatory provisions:

7 U.S.C.A. § 1345 provides that: "The farm marketing quota for any crop of cotton shall be the actual production of the acreage planted to cotton on the farm less the farm marketing excess. The farm marketing excess shall be the normal production of that acreage planted to cotton on the farm which is in excess of the farm acreage allotment: Provided, That such farm marketing excess shall not be larger than the amount by which the actual production of cotton on the farm exceeds the normal production of the farm acreage allotment, if the producer establishes such actual production to the satisfaction of the Secretary."

Section 1346 of the same Title is as follows:

"(a) Whenever farm marketing quotas are in effect with respect to any crop of cotton, the producer shall be subject to a penalty on the farm marketing excess at a rate per pound equal to 50 per centum of the parity price per pound for cotton as of June 15 of the calendar year in which such crop is produced.
"(b) The farm marketing excess of cotton shall be regarded as available for marketing and the amount of penalty shall be computed upon the normal production of the acreage on the farm planted to cotton in excess of the farm acreage allotment. If a downward adjustment in the amount of the farm marketing excess is made pursuant to the proviso in section 1345 of this title, the difference between the amount of the penalty computed upon the farm marketing excess before such adjustment and as computed upon the adjusted farm marketing excess shall be returned to or allowed the producer.
"(c) The person liable for payment or collection of the penalty shall be liable also for interest thereon at the rate of 6 per centum per annum from the date the penalty became due until the date of payment of such penalty.
"(d) Until the penalty on the farm marketing excess is paid, all cotton produced on the farm and marketed by the producers shall be subject to the penalty provided by this section and a lien on the entire crop of cotton produced on the farm shall be in effect in favor of the United States." (Emphasis supplied.)

Subsections (a) and (b) of Section 722.646 of the Regulations provide for the measurement of farms and the determination of excess cotton acreage; subsection (c) of that Section provides for notice of such measurement and determination to be given to the producer and that he be called upon to adjust his actual acreage of cotton to the allotted acreage within the prescribed time; that subsection then goes on to specifically provide that, "No cotton acreage shall be disposed of for purposes of adjusting the planted acreage of cotton to the farm acreage allotment after any cotton has been harvested from such planted acreage."

Section 722.650 of the Regulations is in substantially the same language as 7 U.S.C.A. § 1345, above quoted, and will not be set forth herein; nor will Sections 722.666 or 722.667, which are substantially the same as subsections (a) and (d) of 7 U.S.C.A. § 1346, supra.

The opening sentence of Section 722.669(b) provides that the farm marketing excess for a farm shall be regarded as available for marketing "and the penalty thereon shall become due at the time any cotton produced on the farm is harvested." It is further provided that the penalty due with respect to any farm shall be remitted "on the date it becomes due or not later than March 15, 1956. * * *."

From the foregoing provisions of the statute and regulations we are of the opinion that the plaintiff is correct in its contention that when the defendant failed to dispose of the cotton acreage on his farm upon being advised of his obligation to do so, he became liable for the penalty, regardless of whether or not he harvested or marketed any of the cotton produced on that acreage.5

It will be noted that the penalty prescribed by the statute is not based upon the amount of cotton...

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3 cases
  • Wills v. Schroeder Aviation, Inc.
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • June 26, 1986
    ...defendants' assertion that the discing operation in this case constituted a "harvest" of Wills' corn crop. E.g., United States v. Watkins, 147 F.Supp. 786, 790 (E.D.Ark.1957); People v. Villa, 144 Cal.App.3d 386, 192 Cal.Rptr. 674, 676 (1983), Hefley v. Morales, 197 Colo. 523, 595 P.2d 233,......
  • United States v. Jeffcoat, 7955.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • November 20, 1959
    ...United States v. Bonderer, D.C.W.D.Mo., 139 F.Supp. 391; United States v. Johnson, D.C.W.D.Ark., 155 F.Supp. 898; United States v. Watkins, D.C.E.D.Ark., 147 F.Supp. 786. In this collateral attack upon the determination of the Committee, we think the District Court should not have considere......
  • Chilivis v. Dixon
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • July 1, 1975
    ...Court held that, 'Raised is here used in the sense of matured, and harvested in the sense of severed . . .' In United States v. Watkins, 147 F.Supp. 786, 790 (E.D.Ark., 1957), the defendant argued that his action in picking a portion of his cotton corp did not constitute a 'harvesting' beca......

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