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Fair Labor Standards in Agriculture
"If the court could say 'to be or not to be: that is the question,' it might reasonably answer in support of either side."
Vinson on HAMLET
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Farmers Irrigation Co.

v.

McComb
Fair Labor Standards in Agriculture

Chief Justice Vinson
June 27, 1949
Seal Of The Supreme Court
Excerpt:

The principal question to be decided in this case is whether the employees of a mutual ditch company are exempt from the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act....The company did not comply with either the record keeping or the wages and hours provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the administrator sought an injunction directed against continuation of these alleged violations. The company claimed that its employees were not subject to the act.

If, as the court holds, these employees are engaged in production of agricultural crops for commerce, I do not see how it can hold that they are not engaged in agriculture. If the court could say "to be or not to be: that is the question," it might reasonably answer in support of either side. But here the court tells us that the real solution of this dilemma is "to be" and "not to be" at the same time. While this is a unique contribution to the literature of statutory construction, I can only regret the great loss to the literature of the drama that this possibility was overlooked by the bard of Avon. It will probably now be as great a surprise to the proponents of the agricultural exemption as it would have been to Shakespeare, had it been suggested to him.


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