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Garden State Farms Inc. v. Hoffman

Decided: April 4, 1966.

GARDEN STATE FARMS, INC., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, BURLINGTON FOOD STORE, INC., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, AND CUMBERLAND FARMS OF NEW JERSEY, INC., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, APPELLANTS,
v.
FLOYD R. HOFFMAN, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MILK INDUSTRY, ET AL, RESPONDENTS



For reversal -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall and Schettino. For affirmance -- None.

Per Curiam

Before argument in the Appellate Division, we certified this appeal from Official Order No. 66-1 issued by the Director of the Office of Milk Industry on January 13, 1966. This order would increase minimum resale prices of milk, now governed by Order 64-1.*fn1

The critical question is whether the Director met the procedural demands of the statute. We must conclude he did not, and hence that the order under review must be set aside.

Upon the application of cooperatives representing dairy farmers and organizations representing milk dealers, the Director gave notice of a public hearing,

"* * * called for the limited purpose of receiving testimony concerning changes in labor costs and mandatory associated changes in the rate of Social Security and Medicare which have occurred subsequent to the period for which basic economic data were completed for the promulgation of Official Order No. 64-1 of this office. These changes affect the cost of processing, distributing and selling milk in the State of New Jersey."

Appellant requested the Director to expand the hearing to embrace all cost factors, which request the Director denied, saying:

"* * * This office is studying all cost factors but this study cannot be satisfactorily completed in a short period of time. I am convinced that in fairness to consumers, the industry and petitioners, a limited hearing should be held at the time announced. Additionally, changing the scope of the hearing would present legal problems connected with the notice of hearing already issued."

In his Findings of Fact and Determination, the Director dealt with the limited scope of the hearing. He said "The decision to limit this particular hearing in such fashion was for the reason that a full study of all of the factors considered

in Order 64-1 was not necessary at this time," and for these reasons as we cull them from his statement:

(1) "Any significant increase in cost, if not reflected in minimum retail pricing, might well lead to the disruption of the public supply of milk."

(2) The Office of Milk Industry "keeps a constant watch over economic and marketing conditions. As a result, the director and other employees of the Office of Milk Industry have been aware that there have been no significant changes in the other cost elements, other than those which were called for at the time of the hearing. The Office of Milk Industry and its employees are also aware that these other cost elements tend to remain relatively constant."

(3) The original study by Case and Company, Inc., for the Director and used by him in promulgating Order 64-1, took "over a year to complete" and "If the same kind of study were to be made presently, it could not be completed in less than four ...


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