Farmers raisin' hell over the 'Raisin Reserve'Submitted by sharkcity on Wed, 09/04/2013 - 09:56
There is a government program which can force a farmer to hand over nearly half of his or her annual crop without getting paid for it.
The removed crop is put into a national reserve.
It's not corn, the nation's No. 1 crop and a commodity which can move markets. It's not soybeans, wheat, cotton or even rice.
"It's communist," said her husband, Marvin Horne. "When you take something and don't pay for it, what is it?"
In 2002, the Hornes decided they'd had enough. They stopped handing over any of their grapes to the government and began processing and selling 100 percent of their own product. Other raisin growers joined them.
At first, nothing happened. There was no notice of violation from the USDA agency in charge of the raisin reserve, the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC). Horne figured raisin authorities believed he wouldn't survive on his own. When he instead thrived, and other farmers joined him, Horne claims the RAC began an investigation full of "dirty tricks," which included photographing his children and grandchildren.
"It made the kids afraid, they didn't even want to go out in front of our facility to catch the bus," said Laura Horne.
Eventually, the government fined the Hornes $650,000 for grapes they didn't turn over, and the case went to court. Horne argued the raisin program violates the Constitution's ban on taking property without compensation. He lost that argument repeatedly, but he appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Raisin Administrative Committee President Gary Schulz could not comment on the case to CNBC, but in the past he has said some of the raisins in the reserve are sold overseas, with proceeds used to cover committee costs and to promote raisin consumption. Any leftover profits are supposed to be distributed back to farmers, though Schulz told The Washington Post, "We pretty well spent it all."