Tis the season to give thanks. And for the last 80 years, the federal government has required raisin producers to “give thanks” for the privilege of selling their raisins nationally by requiring them to fork over up to half of their raisins – for free. A lawsuit raising a constitutional challenge to the program has now made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is Horne v. Department of Agriculture.
The program, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has a rather Orwellian-sounding name – the “Raisin Marketing Order.” In a nutshell, under this program, every year, as a condition for “letting” farmers sell their raisin crops in interstate commerce, the federal government has taken up to 47% of the farmers’ raisins – often for no payment at all, or below the cost of producing the raisins. The program has its origins in Great Depression efforts to fix the prices of agricultural crops. (Read more)