The constitutionality of marketing order programs for fresh peaches, plums and nectarines produced in California was reaffirmed in a Supreme Court decision released recently involving mandatory assessments for the Federal Mushroom Council.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the claim by mushroom producer, United Foods, Inc., that the assessments for the council violate its First Amendment rights because the council's activities “were not part of a comprehensive statutory agricultural marketing program.” However, the court distinguished the Mushroom Council from the tree fruit marketing orders noting that, “The First Amendment was not violated when agricultural marketing orders, as part of a larger regulatory marketing scheme, required producers of California tree fruit to pay assessments for product advertising.”

“Significantly, this decision on mushrooms reinforces the constitutionality of assessments for mandated commodity marketing as decided by the Supreme Court in 1997 in Wileman vs. Glickman,” said John Tos, a peach, plum and nectarine grower in Hanford, Calif. “We are happy to hear that the tree fruit case still stands and that our industry can continue conducting the valuable activities designed to help growers expand markets for our crops and increase consumption.”

“Today's Supreme Court decision held that the mandatory payments required of mushroom growers are not part of a comprehensive statutory agriculture marketing order and thus are unconstitutional,” stated Kendall Manock, an attorney with the Fresno, Calif., based law firm of Baker, Manock and Jensen. “The narrow holding focused only on the mushroom industry and used the Glickman tree fruit case as the standard for judging the constitutionality of assessments for marketing order advertising.”