(NaturalNews) Recently declared by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to be "the world's most outdated law," a little known U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy that steals up to half of American raisin farmers' harvest while providing little or no compensation in return is currently being challenged in federal court. As reported by Reason.com, a California couple has sued the USDA, claiming that the policy not only violates the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but also threatens to put small raisin farmers like themselves out of business.
It is known as an agriculture marketing order, and it was established back in the 1930s during the Great Depression as a way to stabilize raisin prices during a unique time when food markets were extremely volatile. A product of the infamous and sweeping New Deal, the agriculture marketing order for raisins established a special government committee responsible for both deciding the price and yield for raisins every year, and confiscating the remaining raisins for export overseas -- and this committee still exists today.
"Once they can estimate the size of the year's harvest, they force every farmer to surrender a percentage of their crop to raisin packers," writes Zach Weissmueller for Reason.com about the egregious actions of the so-called Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC). "The packers then place the raisins in a 'reserve pool,' a special holding vat for raisins that cannot be sold in the U.S. Eventually, the packers can sell the reserve pool raisins overseas at highly discounted prices set by the government or funnel them into school lunch programs for next to nothing."
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this outdated policy -- it is really just a form of legalized robbery by the federal government, by the way -- is that up to half of the domestic raisin harvest is confiscated every year under direct orders from the USDA, with no compensation given to farmers in return. Small-scale raisin farmers like Marvin and Laura Horne of Fresno, California, who filed the lawsuit, simply cannot afford to hand over this insanely large amount of raisins to the government every year without appropriate compensation.
"You can't work for a whole year and then give 47 percent of what you made away and still keep that business afloat," Laura Horne is quoted as saying to Reason.com.
Raisin farmers need to be released from unconstitutional 'involuntary servitude' to USDA
The Hornes were first targeted by the USDA after they tried to circumvent this ridiculous agriculture marketing order for raisins back in 2002 by selling their harvests independently of the government system. Many other small-scale raisin farmers quickly followed their lead, which not surprisingly cued the USDA to pursue legal action against the Hornes. The USDA has since tried to fine the Hornes nearly $1 million, a gargantuan amount that would put them out of business.
"All we want to do is pack our raisins and sell them," says Marvin Horne, as quoted by USA Today. "Free markets are not perfect but they are far superior to the iron fists of government committees that scorn both farmers and consumers. If the Supreme Court cannot smack down the raisin racket, then it should forfeit any pretense of safeguarding Americans' rights and liberties."
As of this writing, the Hornes' case against the USDA is currently awaiting consideration by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. According to Reason.com, the Supreme Court recently ruled in a 9-0 decision that the Ninth Circuit, which previously attempted to deny the case, claiming it had no jurisdiction in the matter, must now consider it on the grounds of its constitutional merits.
Be sure to check out the full Reason.com report on this important issue and watch the video report at the following link: http://reason.com
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