Raisin Farmer Battling USDA Over $700K Fine
A California farmer is raisin’ hell over a federal law which allows the government to seize his crops.
Marvin Horne is taking his case to the Supreme Court in a bid to stop the government from taking his raisin crops to give away or send overseas. A nearly 80-year-old policy requires farmers to contribute raisins to a government reserve for free when crops exceed a certain amount. The policy dates back to World War II, when the government wanted to stabilize the raisin market.
But Horne claims that this law no longer serves a purpose and is unconstitutional. He is arguing that the policy violates the Fifth Amendment, which states “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
When Horne ignored the law, USDA officials said he owed them $700,000 in fines or years of his raisin crops.
“All I wanted to do as a farmer is to grow my grapes, make raisins, and clean and stem ‘em and sell ‘em myself,” Horne said.
“In an unregulated market, annual supply fluctuations combined with static domestic demand creates price instability – which is precisely what occurred in the raisin industry (before the law was passed),” the government argued in a brief.
Critics say the law is absurd, noting that the government doesn’t seize excess tomatoes from farmers.