A Republican Congressman introduced legislation Thursday that would ban the federal government from taking raisins from farmers without compensation. The government is allowed to do this because of a depression-era law coupled with a Marketing Order enacted during the Truman administration.
Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) introduced the The Raisin Farmer Freedom Act, “which would exclude raisin farmers from a decades-old federal law that lets the government take a significant portion of each year’s raisin crop.” His proposed legislation would eliminate the Federal Raisin Reserve.
“Right now, at the hands of a Depression-era law, the government is scooping up a majority of the raisins grown in this country, with no compensation to raisin growers and farmers,” Radel said, according to The Hill. “This is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights.”
Radel said that “removing failed government policies from our agriculture programs” will allow “the free market to prosper and ultimately, lower prices at the checkout the next time you buy groceries.”
The Washington Post recently profiled Marvin Horne, a 68-year-old California raisin farmer who stopped giving the government his raisins in 2002 and now “owes the U.S. government at least $650,000 in unpaid fines,” in addition to “1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins, roughly equal to his entire harvest for four years.”
As Breitbart News reported, the government “can save the raisins, sell them to foreigners, throw them away, or even feed them to animals–so long as they are off the domestic market.” In one recent year, the raisin program generated over $65 million dollars for the federal government, and all of it was spent on overhead and administrative staff.
Horne said the program made him feel like a “serf” and described it as the “rape of the raisin growers.”
The federal government continues to pursue Horne, but his lawyer has argued that the law is unconstitutional because the government will not justly compensate Horne for his raisins. A federal appeals court in California is reviewing the case after the Supreme Court ordered it to do so.