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Chamber of Commerce v. Department of Agric.

Citation: 8 ELR 20754
No. No. 78-1515, 459 F. Supp. 216/(D.D.C., 10/10/1978)

The court denies plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against the disbursement of federal funding for a consumer group study analyzing the economic impact of proposed Department of Agriculture regulations concerning weight variations in meat and poultry products. After determining that plaintiffs, primarily meat packers and processors, have standing to maintain this action and that the matter is ripe for judicial review, the court determines that plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the agency lacks authority to fund such participation in rule making because no explicit statutory provisions empowers it to take such action. Distinguishing Greene County Planning Board v. FPC, 7 ELR 20552, and Turner v. FCC cases in which intervenors attempted to compel an unwilling agency to reimburse them for fees expended in the course of adjudicatory proceedings, the court concludes that numerous authorities, including a recent opinion of the Comptroller General, indicate that federal agencies have the implied power to fund the presentation of views that might otherwise go unrepresented. More specifically, in this case the Wholesome Meat and Wholesome Poultry Products Acts authorize the Department of Agriculture to expend "such sums as are necessary" to carry out their provisions, and the court gives deference to the agency's view that it is thereby empowered to expend funds to obtain information not otherwise available. In addition, the court concludes, any harm to plaintiffs from the funded study would be neither direct nor irreparable and that it is in the public interest to allow all possible views to be presented to the agency before its acts.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
James F. Rill
Collier, Shannon, Rill & Edwards
Suite 701, 1666 K St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 785-1777

Counsel for Defendants
Mary A. McReynolds
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3350