RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: New York State Police
DOCKET NO.: 77-117
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
CITATION: 436 US 816 (1978)
ARGUED: Feb 21, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1978
John H. Shenefield - for respondent
Richard A. Posner - for petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for National Broiler Marketing Assn. v. United StatesAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 21, 1978 in National Broiler Marketing Assn. v. United States
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 12, 1978 in National Broiler Marketing Assn. v. United States
Warren E. Burger:
We have two opinions to announce this morning.
The judgment and opinion of the court in number 77-117 National Broiler Marketing Association against the United States will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.
Harry A. Blackmun:
This is the antitrust case that comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
It involves the application of antitrust principles in the face of an old statute called the Capper-Volstead Act, which was placed on the statute book some 56 years ago in 1922.
The United States brought this suit against the petitioner, the National Broiler Marketing Association a non-profit cooperative, the members of which are called integrated producers of broiler chickens.
The allegations where that they petitioner had conspired with others, including its members in violation of the Sherman Act.
The defense stated where is up the petitioners activities with its members were sheltered under the Capper-Volstead Act which specifically permits persons engaged in the production of agricultural products as farmers, to join in cooperative associations.
So the issue is whether the members of the association are farmers within the meaning of this rather old statute.
The United State District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held that the activities of the members of the association had justified their classification as farmers and that the protection afforded by the Capper-Volstead Act was therefore available.
The Court of Appeals however reversed, it held that not all of the members of the association were farmers and the ordinary meaning of that word as it resumes up the time the Capper-Volstead Act it was passed in the 1920s.
If in fact not all the members of the association qualifiers farmers then it is the accepted law that the association is not entitled to the protection, when the antitrust laws afforded by the Capper-Volstead Act.
We have examined the legislative history we find that the language of the act reveals that not all persons engaged in the production of agricultural products as such are entitled to form cooperatives protected by that Act.
Congress didn't intend the protection of the act to extend to processors and packers to whom farmers sold their goods, even though the processors and packers bore a part of the risks of a fluctuating agricultural market.
Members of the association who own neither a breeder flock nor a hatchery, and who maintain no grow-out facility at which the breeder flocks are raised, are not farmers with in the meaning of the Capper-Volstead Act.
We therefore affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
I am authorize to say Mr. Justice Brennan while joining the Courts opinion has filed a separate concurring opinion, and then Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion, and they joined not to dissent by Mr. Justice Stewart.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.