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Bread for City v. United States Department of Agriculture

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

October 6, 2017

Bread for the City, Appellant
v.
United States Department of Agriculture, et al., Appellees

          Argued September 7, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:15-cv-01591)

          Bryan M. Killian argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Thomas R. Lotterman and Clara Kollm.

          Jaynie Lilley, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellees. With her on the brief was Mark B. Stern, Attorney.

          Before: Rogers and Millett, Circuit Judges, and Randolph, Senior Circuit Judge.

          OPINION

          RANDOLPH, SENIOR CIRCUIT JUDGE

         This is an appeal from the order of the district court dismissing a complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Bread for the City, Inc. v. United States Dep't of Agriculture, 211 F.Supp.3d 327 (D.D.C. 2016). The complaint, filed by Bread for the City, Inc., alleged that the Department of Agriculture spent hundreds of millions of dollars less than the law required on a program to provide food for the needy.

         The district court upheld the Agriculture Department's interpretation of 7 U.S.C. § 2036(a), a spending provision in The Emergency Food Assistance Program, as modified by the Agriculture Act of 2014. Pub. L. No. 113-79, § 4027(a), 128 Stat. 649, 812. Under the Program, the Agriculture Department purchases surplus food and then distributes it to the States. 7 U.S.C. § 2036(a)(1). The States then distribute the food to organizations providing nutrition assistance to the needy, such as Bread for the City in the District of Columbia, which the Program treats as a State. 7 U.S.C. §§ 2012(r), 7501(3)-(4), 7502(g).

         Subsection 2036(a) sets the dollar amount of surplus food the Agriculture Department must purchase each fiscal year. Paragraph 2036(a)(1) now specifies that for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 the Department "shall purchase a dollar amount described in paragraph (2) of a variety of nutritious and useful commodities . . .."

         Paragraph (2) is the portion of § 2036(a) at issue in this appeal. It is as follows:

         (2) Amounts

         The Secretary shall use to carry out paragraph (1)--

(A) for fiscal year 2008, $190, ...

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