Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Grapes of Wrath

Your raisins or your life?

Raisin Grower Marvin Horne has been breaking the law for 11 years now.  He owes the U.S. government $650,000 in unpaid fines and 1.2 million pounds of raisins - equal to four years of harvest.

Marvin didn't like the obscure  Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act (AMAA), 7 U.S.C.S. s. 608c,  allowing the federal government to take nearly half his raisins without compensation. 
The national raisin reserve, (part of the AMAA) is a 64 year old program that gives the U.S. government a heavy-handed power to interfere with the supply and demand for dried grapes. This program was created during the Truman administration to solve the problem of surplus in the market.  It works like this...the government may decide, in any given year that farmers are growing more raisins than Americans will want to eat. It then takes away a percentage of every farmer's raisins, often without paying for them.   The raisins are then placed under government control and kept away from the domestic marketplace. 

Marvin  handed over his raisins to the reserve until 2002, then he refused.  That's when his trouble began.  Now, more than a decade after he began his crusade his case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court!  See the result, where the justices reversed and remanded  to a lower court for a decision.  186 L. Ed. 2nd 69.

Read the summary in LII Supreme Court Bulletin:     

Also read some pretty unusual comments form the Supreme Court Justices here