Other Fields
Agency Scheme: 
Hearing Level: Basic Structure
Name of Hearing Office (local name): 
Office of the Administrator
Name of Hearing Office (global name): 
Department of Agriculture: Office of the Administrator
Agricultural Marketing Service
Hearing Officer #1 (Title): 
Administrative Law Judge
Hearing Officer #2 (Title): 
Are administrative appeals permitted from final decisions at the hearing-level stage?: 
Comments/Notes on Adjudication Structure: 

This adjudication scheme covers multi-step and multi-party formal proceedings under Part 900 pursuant to the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (AMAA), which authorizes the Secretary to establish marketing conditions for specified agricultural commodities by entering into marketing agreements between USDA and handlers and producers; such agreements or orders are intended to help provide stable markets for dairy products, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops.

In general, issuance of marketing agreements and orders follow this process: (1) publication of a notice of hearing in the Federal Register; (2) holding of a formal fact-finding hearing presided over by an ALJ; (3) issuance of a recommended decision by the AMS Administrator; (4) publication of the recommended decision in the Federal Register and filing of exceptions by interested parties; (5) issuance of a final decision and accompanying agreement and/or order (if any) by the Secretary; and (6) execution of agreement by eligible handlers. [Note: The Secretary may, at his/her discretion, conduct the fact-finding hearing in lieu of an ALJ.]

PROCESS & PROCEDURE - General Information
Are private parties permitted to have representation at hearings?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
Who may serve as a private party representative?: 
Is the agency permitted to have representation at hearings?: 
N/A (e.g., Agency Not Party to Hearing)
Regulations/rules of practice for hearings (please include CFR citations): 
7 CFR pt. 900. Specialized rules for certain agricultural products set forth in subparts (see 7 CFR 900.20 - 900.43).
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Pre-Hearing Procedure
Is discovery permitted by either party at the hearing-level stage?: 
Does the hearing officer have subpoena authority?: 
Are ex parte contacts prohibited?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
Are parties provided notice of hearing?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Hearing Procedure
What types of hearings are permitted at the hearing-level stage?: 
Please provide the approximate percentage of each type of hearing relative to the total number of hearings (FY2013)
How is the type of hearing selected: 
Required by Rule
How many hearing officers preside at each hearing?: 
Is witness testimony permitted at hearings?: 
Can parties cross-examine witnesses?: 
Adjudication Officer Discretion
Can third-parties submit amicus briefs and/or evidence?: 
Are hearings recorded and/or transcribed?: 
Are hearings open to the public?: 
Yes (Hearings Always Open/All Types of Cases)
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Post-Hearing Procedure
Who typically drafts the decision at the hearing-level stage?: 
If "Other," please specify (drafts): 
The AMS Administrator issues a recommended decision and marketing agreement/order (if any), based on the transcript and other records from the formal hearing conducted by the ALJ.
Who has authority to issue final decisions?: 
If "Other," please specify: 
The USDA Secretary, after review of the AMS Administrator's recommended decision and the rest of the record (including exceptions filed to the recommended decision), issues the final decision and any related marketing agreement or order. (Note: Assumes Secretary does not conduct hearing; if Secretary does conduct hearing in lieu of ALJ, then hearing officer (Secretary) drafts the decision.)
Do agency regulations or guidance provide time limits for issuance of final decisions?: 
Yes (Some Types of Cases)
If "Yes," please specify these time limit(s): 
Proceedings to Amend Milk Marketing Agreement/Order: The Secretary's final decision must be issued not later than 60 days after deadline for filing exceptions to recommended decision.
Is judicial review available after issuance of a final decision?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
PROCESS & PROCEDURE - Case Management
Does the agency permit web-based electronic filing of hearing-related briefs or other documents?: 
Are final decisions published and/or posted on the agency website?: 
Yes (All Decisions)
Do agency regulations/rules of practice specify the contents of the administrative record at the hearing-level stage?: 
Yes (All Types of Cases)
If "Yes," please provide citation(s): 
7 CFR 900.10, 900.13
Do agency regulations/rules of practice provide for closure of the record at the hearing-level stage (subject to applicable exce: 
Comments/Notes on Hearing-Level Process & Procedures (Optional): 
Proceedings to Amend Milk Marketing Agreement/Order: The party proposing the amendment must, if appearing as a witness at the hearing, file copies of his/her written testimony and any accompanying exhibits before the start of the hearing on the day of appearance. (Note: Individual dairy farmers are exempt from this requirement.) Proceedings to Amend Fruit, Vegetable, or Nut Marketing Agreement/Order: Witnesses at hearings must file copies of their written testimony and any accompanying exhibits before the start of the hearing on the day of appearance. Rules also require parties, to extent possible, to submit copies of documents electronically to AMS Fruit and Vegetable Programs, in addition to filing with hearing clerk.
ADR: General Information
Is ADR available at one or more points during the hearing process?: 
Verified by Agency: 
Not verified