JONES, Circuit Judge:
The appellant, Harry H. Price & Sons, Inc., is a tomato repacker and wholesaler whose principal place of business is located in Dallas, Texas. It purchases the majority of its tomatoes from importers who receive vine-ripened tomatoes from Mexico. The initial question before this Court is whether the appellant has standing to challenge the validity of certain administrative orders or regulations, issued by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act,
The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act provides a comprehensive scheme for the regulation of agricultural commodities, including tomatoes, which move in interstate commerce. The declared policy of the Act is to protect the interests of the farmer and consumer through the establishment of "orderly marketing conditions."
Pursuant to this statutory authority, the Secretary, in 1955, issued an order regulating the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida.
Three regulations were issued by the Secretary pursuant to Section 966.52 of the amended 1955 marketing order. The first of these, issued after 30-day notice was given, became effective November 15, 1968, and was to be in effect until July 31, 1969.
In an action brought to enjoin the Secretary from enforcing the January and April 1969 import restrictions, the appellant challenged the validity of the "regulations" upon which the import restrictions were based. In its complaint, the appellant alleged that "because of the limited seasonal nature of the commodity in question, and because of the heavy investment in supplies and materials made * * * all of which will be totally wasted, plaintiff will suffer irreparable injury * * *." The Secretary of Agriculture filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the appellant had no standing to bring and maintain the action and that the complaint failed to state a cause of action. No answer was filed. The case was set for hearing on an application for an injunction pendente lite. The court suggested and the parties agreed that the hearing should be regarded as a final hearing on the merits. Many contentions were made in the complaint, including claims that the Act is unconstitutional,
The district court sustained the motion to dismiss on both of the stated grounds, holding that the appellant had no standing to bring and maintain the suit and holding that the complaint did not state a cause of action.
The district court, in its determination that the appellant had no standing to bring and maintain this action, relied, in part, upon the decisions in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 88 S.Ct. 1942, 20 L. Ed.2d 947, and Barlow v. Collins, 5th Cir. 1968, 398 F.2d 398.
It might be suggested that there are principles of law set forth in decided cases which are more easily understood and more readily applied than the above test of standing. In the case before us the appellant's complaint has shown economic injury. The appellant has certainly argued that it is within "the zone of interests to be protected or regulated." It does not necessarily follow that because it has so argued that it is "arguably" within such zone of interests but we think the complaint demonstrates that the appellant has met the test of standing of the Data Processing case. It has been a handler of tomatoes of the kind and size the marketing of which is indirectly affected by the orders and regulations, and it was in the marketing chain of such tomatoes between producer and consumer. The declared policy of the Act
The district court having decided that the appellant did not have standing to bring and maintain the action might have omitted any consideration of the merits of the appellant's claim. If there is no standing on the part of a plaintiff, the court has no jurisdiction over the merits of the claim asserted. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 89 S.Ct. 1843, 23 L.Ed.2d 404; Flast v. Cohen, supra. However, as has been noted, the district court stated that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and in its opinion apparently held that this was also a ground for dismissal.
Since it is here held that the appellant has standing to bring and maintain the action, we consider the district court's apparent determination on the merits. The complaint was not free from imperfections but its defects were not such as required the granting, without leave to amend, of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. Before final hearing an answer would be appropriate. The uncontradicted evidence of the appellant that it had sustained business losses was not the subject of notice or comment in the district court's opinion. This evidence, although not detailed or documented, was such as might have been considered in determining whether an irreparable injury had been shown. The district court observed that the only loss shown by appellant resulted from its inability to use some packaging materials it had purchased. The district court found that this was not an irreparable injury and so concluded that no irreparable injury had been shown.
It seems probable that the principal basis for the district court's decision was its determination that the appellant was without standing. Under such circumstances, we conclude that the interests of justice will be best served by vacating the judgment of the district court and remanding the cause for such proceedings as may be appropriate in the light of this opinion. Vacated and remanded.