I will wager a guess that you have no idea that lurking within the bowels of the federal government we have a Raisin Administrative Committee. But, we do. It has come to light as a result of an oral argument last week before the United States Supreme Court.
In order to stabilize raisin prices during the Great Depression, for reasons known only to that administration,
U.S. raisin farmers have been required for nearly 80 years to turn over a share of their crops to the federal government every year, often at below-market prices.
This matter is now before the Supreme Court because Marvin and Laura Horne founded a business,
… to process and pack the raisins themselves, mistakenly reasoning that their raisins would then not pass through the middleman “sellers” who must forfeit a share of the crop to the government.
Unfortunately, for the Horne’s, said reasoning was faulty. The Raisin Administrative Committee swooped in and ordered them to pay $483,843 as the value of the raisins they didn’t “forfeit” to the federal government, and for good measure, added $202,600 in fines to the tab. Understandably upset, the Horne’s sued, and after years of lower court wranglings the matter ended up before the United States Supreme Court.
The issue is pretty simple…does the virtual seizure of raisins by the federal government violate the takings clause of the Constitution, i.e., that section of the Fifth Amendment that provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
I’m sure you are wondering, as am I, what “public use” could the federal government possibly have for said raisins. Hopefully, this burning question will be answered in the Supreme Court’s opinion.
But, beyond that, I know I will sleep better tonight knowing that we can afford a Raisin Administrative Committee, but can’t afford White House tours for our children, or air traffic controllers, or airport security, or…