The Office of the Judicial Officer was established pursuant to the Act of April 4, 1940 (7 U.S.C. §§ 2204-1 through 2204-5 (formerly cited as 7 U.S.C. §§ 450c-450g)). The Act of April 4, 1940, is also known as the Schwellenbach Act. The Judicial Officer is delegated authority by the Secretary of Agriculture to act as final deciding officer in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) adjudicatory proceedings subject to 5 U.S.C. §§ 556 and 557 and other proceedings listed in 7 C.F.R. § 2.35.
The mission of the Office of the Judicial Officer is to review carefully the record in each proceeding and to issue expeditiously a fair, clear, well-reasoned final USDA decision, which is consistent with law and USDA policy. The Judicial Officer’s decisions are not reviewable within USDA, but any litigant in a proceeding, other than USDA, may seek judicial review of the Judicial Officer’s decision.
The Judicial Officer’s decisions and rulings issued during the period 1942 through 2012 are published in Agriculture Decisions, Volumes 1 through 71. Beginning with Volume 72 (2013), Agriculture Decisions is available exclusively online and may be found on the USDA OHA Decisions and Determinations page . In addition, all major Judicial Officer decisions issued after January 1, 2002 may be found at the University of Arkansas National Agricultural Law Center website. The USDA PACA website includes major Perishable Agricultural Commodity Act reparation decisions issued by the Judicial Officer that have not yet been published in Agriculture Decisions.