Did you know that your federal government literally takes part of the raisin farmer’s crops and do not pay them for it, in most cases?

Would you call that theft?

If someone came to you and said we are going to take part of what you grow and/or make and give you nothing for it, is that not theft?

Well the U.S. government does not believe that is theft.

As being reported in the U.S. News and World Report from an AP reporter this post-World War II-era program actually does force raisin growers/producers to handover part of their annual crop to the U.S. Federal government, without “just compensation” in almost every case.

Two California grape farmers believe the program is prohibited by the Constitution, which forbids the taking of private property without "just compensation."

I was wondering what took these farmers so long to sue the government.

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments from the farmers and the federal government lawyers.  The justices were very concerned about the government’s position and expressed doubts that federal officials can legally take raisins away from farmers without full payment even if the goal, as the U.S. lawyers stated, was to help boost overall market prices.

Is that a fair argument by your government?

The following are some points expressed by the justices:

  • Justice Antonin Scalia compared it to old-style Soviet central planning
  • Justice Elena Kagan called it a "weird historical anomaly"
  • Chief Justice John Roberts noted that most other farm regulatory programs try to limit how much of a crop farmers can grow, as opposed to taking away produce already harvested.

As in other crops the U.S. Department of Agriculture had been given authorization by law in 1937 to keep commodity prices, including those for raisins, steady by managing supply.

You know what that does?  It raises the prices that we all must pay for these products.

So in 1949 a Raisin Administrative Committee started to decide how much of the crop raisin producers must turn over each year. What the government takes, called reserves, are sold outside the open market or donated to federal agencies, charities or foreign governments.

What is supposed to happen then is profits from those “taken” reserve are used to fund the costs of running the committee, and any excess goes back to the producers?

Problem is rarely are any “profits” given back to the person who produced/owned the raisins.

For example for the 2002-2003 raisin crop the raisin farmers were required to give up 47% of their crop, but received far less than their costs of production. Then in the 2003-2004 the “committee” demanded 30% of the crop and were paid nothing.

Did you know your government was forcing farmers to give part of their crop or face a heavy fine and/or prison, if they did not comply?

I know it is happening with other crops but I thought they just paid them to not grow.

Is it fair that the U.S. government has programs that raise the cost of goods to the consumer to “stabilize” prices?

What are your thoughts?

Let’s discuss this today on my show The Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.

Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.

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