Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Supreme Court orders new hearing for California raisin farmers

I can't believe the farmers put up with this for so long!

Because a bumper crop can lead to a sharp drop in the price, the raisin board seeks to keep part of the crop off the market. The board, which is made up of growers and handlers, decides each year on how much should be set aside in the “reserve pool” of raisins.

The Hornes have grown raisins in the Central Valley since 1969, and they were disgruntled with the raisin marketing orders. They have been “a complete failure for growers, handlers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We will not relinquish ownership of our crop,” they said.

They tried several steps to get around the marketing order, but a USDA administrator brought an enforcement action against them in 2004. It resulted in them being hit with fines and assessments of nearly $600,000 for evading the marketing orders.

They went to federal court to challenge the fines and the marketing orders, and they argued the government was unconstitutionally taking their private property. The 5th Amendment says “private property (shall not) be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

They lost before a federal judge, and last year, the 9th Circuit Court ruled they first should have taken their claim to a federal claims court to seek a refund.

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