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AGO 1954 No. 231 - April 02, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


Hides of meat food animals, namely, cattle, horses, mules, asses, swine, sheep and goats are not within the classification of agricultural products as defined in the Commission Merchant's Act.

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                                                                    April 2, 1954

Honorable Sverre N. Omdahl
Director, Department of Agriculture
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                             Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 231

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your letter of March 11, 1954, previously acknowledged, in which you pose the following question:

            Are the hides of meat food animals, namely, cattle, horses, mules, asses, swine and goats, within the classification of agricultural products as defined in the Commission Merchants Act?

            In our opinion, the answer to your question is "no."


            In connection with this question, you have advised that it is the business of certain persons to purchase the hides of meat food animals from farmers, meat markets and other persons, generally carrying on their operations in a given area from a truck.  You state that the question involves the meat food animals as defined in section 1 (2), chapter 98, Laws of 1949, in which section the term is intended to mean cattle, horses, mules, asses, swine, sheep and goats.  It  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] is with reference to the hides of these animals that you request our opinion.

            The Commission Merchants Act, as codified in the Revised Code of Washington in chapter 20.04 RCW, provides for the licensing of all persons who receive or purchase, sell or offer for sale, promote the sale of, or solicit consignments for sale on commission, or for the purpose of resale or processing, any agricultural product.  (RCW 20.08.010).

            An agricultural product is defined in RCW 20.04.040 as follows:

            "'Agricultural product' includes any horticultural, viticultural, berry, poultry, grain,livestock, bee or other farm product."  (Emphasis supplied)

            We have examined the legal authority of this jurisdiction and have found no determination of the particular question involved, although, the constitutionality of the Commission Merchants Act has been upheld on several occasions by our Supreme Court.  We turn, therefore, to a consideration of the judicial decisions from other jurisdictions for our authority.

            The term, agricultural product, has generally been held to be synonymous with the term, agricultural commodity.  Bowles v. Rock, 55 Fed. Supp. 865, 868.  Although the term agricultural commodity includes livestock, this definition has not been extended to include meat products.  Tambasco v. R. F. C., 178 F. (2d) 283; U.S. v. Charney, 50 Fed. Supp. 581; Swift & Company v. R. F. C., 183 F. (2d) 4 459; Ormont v. Clark, 164 F. (2d) 354.

            InOrmont v. Clark, supra, it was held that a live steer was an agricultural commodity, but that meat or other edible by-products derived from slaughter of such animals were not agricultural commodities.  A similar result was reached by the court in Atlantic Meat Co. v. R. F. C., 166 F. (2d) 51, wherein the court stated at page 55 of its decision as follows:

            "We are further confirmed in our view that carcasses and wholesale cuts of beef are not agricultural commodities but are commodities processed from agricultural commodities * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Speaking on the same subject in Superior Packing Company v. Clark, 164 F. (2d) 343, 349, the court very adeptly stated its conclusions as follows:

            "A live steer is an 'agricultural commodity,' produced on a farm and sold by a farmer in its raw, natural and unprocessed state.  A beef carcass, a wholesale cut, retail cuts such as steaks or roasts, beef brains, kidneys, hearts, livers, or other edible by-products, as well as meat products resulting from still further processing, such as sausages‑-these are all distinct commodities not produced on the farm and sold by farmers.  They are not 'agricultural commodities,' but commodities 'processed or manufactured in whole or substantial part' from an agricultural commodity, the live steer.  The slaughterer's operation of producing these various meat products would be described as a processing operation in the everyday use of words, and it certainly is such from the point of view of the steer."

            It is quite clear that meat products are not livestock; however, your question relates to the hides of the animals.  The word "hide" is defined by Webster to be the "skin of an animal, either raw or dressed, more generally applied to the undressed skins of the larger domestic animals, as oxen, horses, etc."  Heally v. Brandon, 21 N.Y.S. 390, 395.  In accordance with the authority stated herein, it follows that the hides of a meat food animal are but another commodity or product processed or manufactured from the agricultural commodity, the live steer.

            It is, therefore, the opinion of this office that hides of meat food animals, namely, cattle, horses, mules, asses, swine, sheep and goats, are not within the classification of agricultural products as defined in the Commission Merchants Act.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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