Michigan Canners & Freezers Association, Inc. v. Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board

PETITIONER: Michigan Canners & Freezers Association, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board
LOCATION: Internal Revenue Service Building

DOCKET NO.: 82-1577
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Michigan Supreme Court

CITATION: 467 US 461 (1984)
ARGUED: Mar 19, 1984
DECIDED: Jun 11, 1984

John H. Garvey - on behalf of U.S. as amicus curiae
Joseph G. Scoville - on behalf of the appellants
James A. White - on behalf of the appellees

Facts of the case


Media for Michigan Canners & Freezers Association, Inc. v. Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 19, 1984 in Michigan Canners & Freezers Association, Inc. v. Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Michigan Canners Association against Agricultural Marketing Board.

Mr. Scoville, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Joseph G. Scoville:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

This is an appeal from the Supreme Court of Michigan.

The issue in this case is whether a Michigan statute conflicts with and therefore is preempted by an Act of Congress.

The Act of Congress is the Agricultural Fair Practices Act of 1967.

It was designed by Congress to safeguard an individual farmer's right to join or not to join a cooperative association.

It was also designed by Congress to strengthen the competitive marketing system for commodities in this country.

The Michigan state statute is the Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Act of 1972.

In contrast to the federal Act, the Michigan Act imposes a union model on agriculture in the state.

It compels unwilling farmers to adhere to the prices, terms, and service fees of a cooperative association.

It compels unwilling purchasers to negotiate with cooperative associations.

Appellants do not contend that the federal Act has occupied this field of regulation.

We contend instead that the Michigan Act and the specific provisions of the Michigan Act stand as an obstacle to the full purposes of the federal Act by destroying rights created or protected in the federal Act.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Scoville, the same might be said of the legislation in California.

I am curious to know whether you think that portions of the California Act are also invalid under your view.

Joseph G. Scoville:

The California Act, Your Honor, is well distinguishable from the Michigan Act in two very important respects.

The California Act does not purport to bind unwilling farmers by the decisions of the cooperative.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, they all have to contribute a certain amount of the produce, and they are bound by certain determinations of the group, are they not?

Joseph G. Scoville:

Perhaps, Your Honor--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Whether they have joined or not.

Joseph G. Scoville:

--Perhaps we are not talking about the same California Act.

There are two California Acts.

One is the California pro rate Act, and the other is the California bargaining one.

I am confused as to which one Your Honor is talking about.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, you can address both.

Joseph G. Scoville:

The California bargaining Act, which is the one that is analogous to the Michigan Act, the one that directly regulates agricultural marketing and bargaining, is not at all like the Michigan Act in the two particulars that I mentioned.

First, unwilling farmers are not affected at all.

Unwilling farmers are free to market their products free from the cooperative.

They need not support the cooperative, and the cooperative's decisions have nothing to do with the unwilling farmer.