Fifth Amendment Challenge Against USDA’s “Raisin Taking” Makes It To The Supreme Court

raisin outlaw

California raisin farmer, Martin Horne, has been battling a Depression era U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation for over a decade. Horne says that the 1937 revision of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act amounts to a violation of his Fifth Amendment protections, and is nothing short of government theft.

The Act gave birth to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the National Raisin Reserve ( yes, these are real things), and allowed them to confiscate a portion of raisin crops each year in an effort to stabilize raisin prices. The regulations are (surprise!) convoluted in that they don’t permit taking of crops from growers (producers) of grapes, but from handlers who dry and package raisins.  Horne is both.

In 2001, Horne claimed he was not subject to the USDA’s raisin taking, but they demanded 47% of his crop. When he refused, they slapped him with a $700,000 fine.  Horne has been navigating the court system since.

In 2013, the Supreme Court booted the challenge back to the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that the Fifth Amendment’s “Taking Clause” was not applicable in the case of raisins, and if it were ( ?) handlers were compensated by the controlled pricing on the raisins allowed to be sold by the Raisin Administrative Committee.

Opponents call the regulation everything from antiquated to unconstitional. When SCOTUS referred the case back to the Ninth Circuit in 2013, Justice Elena Kagan said that that court should determine if the law was unconstitutional or just “the world’s most out-of-date law.”

The case managed to make it’s way onto Comedy Central, and their investigative reporting may come closest to defining the case.


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