Government Argues Stealing Half Of Raisin Crop Is Not Taking

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The 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is designed, among other things, to prevent private property from being taking for public use without just compensation. But thanks to Depression-era laws that fixed prices for certain farm products (and at the time served to deny cheap crops to starving families), the government has been stealing almost half of all raisins produced in California with little or no compensation to the farmers.

But farmers are fighting back, and thanks to a recent 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in their favor, California raisin producers may soon win their battle with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over who derives the most benefit for their labor: the growers or the government.

The Depression-era regulation called an agriculture marketing order requires raisin producers (and farmers of several other products) to comply with decisions made by an elected board of paper-shuffling, government functionary bureaucrats on how many raisins should be produced in a given year. The Raisin Administrative Committee’s job is to fix raisin prices. So once farmers have an idea on the size of the year’s harvest, the Raisin Administrative Committee tells the farmers how much of their product they must place in a reserve pool. That reserve pool cannot be sold in the United States and must be surrendered to raisin packers — crony capitalist corporations like Sun-Maid — that then package and sell the raisins to the U.S. government for school lunch programs or at reduced prices overseas.

Farmers were to receive some compensation for the raisins set aside. But thanks to dwindling profit margins, farmers weren’t compensated in 2003, even though 47 percent of their crop had to be handed over to the government. When that happened, Raisin Valley Farms owner Marvin Horne decided he’d had enough.

He believed that if he packaged and sold his own raisins, he could circumvent the order. Other raisin producers, sensing an opportunity to benefit from all their labor rather than only that portion the eggheaded bureaucrats thought they should, decided to follow suit.

The USDA promptly slapped the Hornes with fines and demanded payment for the raisins they didn’t surrender. Horne said the fines and payment totaled about $1 million — much more than he and his small farm could muster. So he sued.

The USDA, joined by Sun-Maid, argued the case had nothing to do with taking but was a case about the Hornes violating farming regulations. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, unsurprisingly, agreed with the USDA.

In June, the Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit and sent the case back with an order to hear the case on its Constitutional merits. The Hornes are hopeful the 9th Circuit will rule in their favor. If not, they say they’ll take the case back to the Supreme Court.

The case holds a lot of ramifications for farmers — and for Americans. And it spurs a lot of questions that, of course, are lost on pencil-pushing government functionaries, who must make and enforce burdensome regulations in order to justify their existence, and progressives, who actually believe that free-market capitalism exists in America and blame capitalism for economic woes.

Among the questions are:

  • Why are Depression-era regulations still burdening farmers?
  • Why is the government artificially raising the price of certain food items?
  • Why should certain favored corporations receive products below market prices?
  • Why does the U.S. government allow U.S. products to be sold to foreigners at artificially set lower prices than to Americans?

The answer, of course, is that America is a fascist system.

Hat tip: Reason.com

Personal Liberty

Bob Livingston

founder of Personal Liberty Digest™, is an ultra-conservative American author and editor of The Bob Livingston Letter™, in circulation since 1969. Bob has devoted much of his life to research and the quest for truth on a variety of subjects. Bob specializes in health issues such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs, as well as issues of privacy (both personal and financial), asset protection and the preservation of freedom.

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  • Quester55

    DAMN-A-RATS, Can’t Live with them, Can’t Kill them!
    Their worse than the Mexicans that they allow into this country, to take over.
    As a Farmer, When we had RATS in the Grain Bins, We’d either Gas them out or use a Much smalled Metal Bin & Treat some grain with POISON! In a few days, we’d have 50 to 100 rats DEAD! & Buried.
    Wonder what would happen to those Communist Agriculture agents that steal treated Raisins?
    Would it be wrong not to tell them that you treated the Cases to prevent any RATS from Feeding on the harvested Crops.?

    • Bill

      Very intelligent remarks from Quester the molester

  • Rb

    Wow. And as long as this has been going on you just can’t blame the Dems. Plenty of Republicans have passed throughout Washington doing nothing about this too. We’ve been fascists longer than most of us realize. It was just more profitable for everyone until now.

    • Sanders

      So very true. Just goes to prove even further that the two parties are nearly one in the same. Fortunately for the rest of the American farmers, this farmer had enough money and fortitude to go up against the corrupt Federal Government and equally corrupt Sun-Maid corporation. I now know another company who has lost my business, and all my friends who care to listen to my reasoning, for probably the rest of my life.

    • Beverly Golato

      I think originally this was started when the farmers were growing more then they needed and a lot went to waste. So the government stepped in a paid the farmers not to grow. What is happening now is just pure and outrageous corruption and crony capitalism. As usual the Dems put all programs on steroids to support their buddies and to hell with the rest of us.

      • vicki

        What is happening now is what was happening then. Government paying someone to NOT produce IS crony capitalism.

        • Beverly Golato

          No crony capitalism is when you steal from one person and give to another for something gained. In other words the government stole the raisins from the farmer and gave them to Sun-Maid who in turned sold them back to the government.

  • Beverly Golato

    The government has been stealing from the farmers for years. Then they want to act noble and pass a “Farm Bill” to help them which is nothing but an excuse to support the government slave farm.

    • indiana_conservative

      I agree. Forget the farm bill legislation and let the market work. If we like when everything else there becomes an overstock or under stock of an item the market fluctuates to show a reduced or increased price depending on consumer needs. If the farmer gets $6 a bushel for a product then goes over the need it may drop to $3 but that $3 is better than nothing.

  • Chuck Rogers II

    Yes this has been going on a very long time but is it really right? This is a case where the blame must be shared by both sides and should do something about it. Illegal immigration has also been going on a long time and nothing has been done. This is the kind of stuff that annoys the folks they work for!!

  • Vigilant

    Absolutely excellent article, Mr. Livingston.

    • http://personalliberty.com/ Bob Livingston

      Thank you sir.

      Best wishes,
      Bob

  • Vigilant

    Don’t expect a different ruling from the 9th Circuit (Communist Court of California). Although they have a sparkling record of something like 80% reversal of their decisions by the SCOTUS, they and their partner in activism, the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, will continue to flout the Constitution at every opportunity.

    They should all be impeached..

    • Bill

      The answer would be for the farmers to sue and receive punitive damages against the individual government workers who caused their problems. These government workers are hurting the finances of the farmers and they should be held personally liable.

      • Vis Fac

        That is the ONLY way to stop this madness make people PERSONALLY responsible for their actions which is contrary to liberal one dimensional thinking

    • hungry4food

      These Anti Growth Environmentalist Marxists are hell bent on causing a supply shortage across the broad while they are telling us they want change and to give them the power to create supply , like this !!!!!

      Communism has and always will be about POPULATION CONTROL ,

      WAKE UP AND SAVE THE COUNTRY THAT HAS IN THE PAST BEEN THE FREEDOM HUB WHILE THE REST OF THE WORLD GENOCIDES ITS PEOPLE !!!!!

  • Joe C

    Wake up people! We live in a communist country! The apple has fallen into Lenin’s hands just like he said it would. So what’s the next 5 year plan?

  • Smee

    Taking or stealing? I’d say anytime these people in DC have their fingers in someone elses pocket, it’s stealing!!!

  • Fedup

    My two bumper stickers: “Government is the problem, not the solution” and “Dissolve the federal government”
    Nuf said!

    • ONTIME

      Among mine also, the other Is, “Whenever government wants to give you anything, cover every orifice on your body.” It has worked well for many years now and I still employ it…

  • chrisnj

    The Interstate Commerce clause to the Constitution has been distorted and misapplied beyond recognition and certainly beyond the intent of those who wrote and ratified it.

    Re-limiting the jurisdiction of the federal government over the production, sale, and pricing of agricultural (and other) products would be a very positive development in the ongoing drive to reign-in and out-of-control, lawless, (and nearly criminal) government.

    Calling a tax a “fee”, or a fee a “tax”, or a public taking a “rule” does not change the actual facts of the matter. If I grow or produce something and you either confiscate it or restrain me from selling it to others, you have taken my property.

    “Just compensation” is not just what some ancient rule defines – it should be what I could have sold the item for on an open and free market, absent the threat of government confiscation.

  • Timothy Thompson

    We need to have a major push to have congress go through all the laws on the books once and for all. They keep adding laws and never with common sense rid us of these antiquated self serving laws that are killing commerce. This is really a no brainer, hopefully Americans are frinally waking up and smelling the roses of tyranny.

  • Randy Nelson

    let them flood the market with raisins. The price will drop and then they will want to have farm subsidies. You can’t have it both ways

  • rbrooks

    does this mean the end to grape subsidies? that would be a good start. why not advocate to end all agriculture subsidies.

    better yet, just end all subsidies.

  • John H. Holliday D.D.S.

    Sun-Maid Organized Raisin Crime Syndicate is selling stolen raisins.