Hymas v. United States, No. 14-5150 (Fed. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In the 1970s, the Department of the Interior’s Fish and WildlifeService began entering into cooperative farming agreements with farmers to manage public lands in the National Wildlife Refuge System for the conservation of migratory birds and wildlife, including at the Umatilla and McNary Refuges in the Pacific Northwest. Most CFAs share identical terms; the Service permits a “cooperator” to farm public land with specific crops that benefit wildlife. There is no payment. Cooperators typically retain 75 percent of the crop yield for their efforts. Hymas sought a cooperator contract. The Service selected other cooperators, but did not use formal procurement procedures or solicit full and open competition. It relied upon its system that gave preference to previous cooperators with a successful record of farming designated areas within the refuge. Hymas did not live adjacent to the refuges and had not previously farmed refuge lands. The Claims Court concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491(b)(1), to resolve his bid protest and held that the Service violated various federal procurement laws and the Administrative Procedure Act. The Federal Circuit vacated with instructions to dismiss, holding that the CFAs are not subject to Tucker Act review.