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Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:01 PM

Supreme Court to hear California raisin growers' case

Source: Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear an appeal from Fresno raisin growers Marvin and Laura Horne, who contend that the federal marketing program that can take nearly half of their crop is unconstitutional.

Their case poses a significant challenge to the New Deal-era farm program that seeks to prop up prices by keeping part of the crop off the market.

...

California produces 99.5% of the nation's raisins and about 40% of the world's supply, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a say on how some of the crop can be used.

Under the federal program, the USDA's raisin board seeks to maintain stable prices by setting aside some portion of the crop and keeping it off the market. Those raisins can be used in the federal school lunch program, but the growers are paid little or nothing for them.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-court-raisins-20121121,0,5005023.story



More waste of the taxpayers's money on another stupid reich-wing lawsuit whose only purpose is to undermine and destroy FDR's legacy.

I my only hope is that the SCOTUS rules against them.

16 replies, 3256 views

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:13 PM

1. Actually I agree with them.

I'm not sure how anyone could think taking their crops and not paying them for them is "fair" in any way.

I think they should either pay them market rate or just let them free market themselves into oblivion, which is what will happen if they flood the market and crash the price.

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Response to JoeyT (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:38 PM

3. My mother remembers the time in the 1930s when the farmers

had to dump their crops on the streets. They had grown so much food that their products could not be sold. They could not even give them away. Meanwhile, the soil was depleted. Soil needs to grow alternative crops from time to time. You can't just grow the same thing year after year and expect to have healthy soil. Unfortunately, I don't think we are obeying that law of nature much any more.

The Roosevelt/Truman programs for farmers were complex and intended to help avoid soil depletion, erosion, overproduction that would result eventually in hunger as crops dwindled and farmers could not afford to produce them.

If those programs were abolished, we would probably find ourselves reinventing them.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:24 PM

4. I agree there's a purpose behind them,

and that it's a good idea. I'm just not keen on taking their crops without paying them a fair rate for them. Assuming that's what's happening, of course. I'm not sure how biased the article may have been on that point, and I've never grown anything that was subject to these kind of programs. If they're getting a fair rate for them, then I'm behind the programs 100%.

It isn't really going to reduce depletion, erosion, etc if they're still growing them. I'm not sure how you could actually stop that...perhaps by exempting or partially exempting people that planted non-harvestable nitrogen fixers between the rows (I'm not sure what you call a row of grapes), but that would still leave the chance of market instability.

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Response to JoeyT (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 04:55 AM

16. My grandfather lived through the dust storms.

He planted nitrogen fixers. In fact, the information about nitrogen fixers was so important in my family that I am going to be planting my winter peas in my tiny backyard garden if, of all places, Los Angeles, tomorrow. I do not plant tomatoes in the same place in two successive years. I rotate even in my little, tiny property. It just makes sense.

The miles and miles of corn are an invitation to problems, big problems.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 08:12 PM

7. It's easy to promote crop rotation for annual crops

but grape vines take years to grow. It's not like they can just plant something else for a year and go back to growing raisins.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 04:49 AM

14. True. But that is the exception.

And if you have too much grape production, vintners cannot make a living and cannot keep planting. Farming costs money. People have to allow for some control on the amount of agricultural products they produce for sale if they are to keep their farms going.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 06:48 PM

13. In California, they had an alternative to dumping the crops...they COULD have fed the starving.

I've always remembered this passage from THE GRAPES OF WRATH:

The decay spreads over the State, and the sweet smell is a great
sorrow on the land. Men who can graft the trees and make the seed
fertile and big can find no way to let the hungry people eat their
produce. Men who have created new fruits in the world cannot create
a system whereby their fruits may be eaten. And the failure hangs over
the State like a great sorrow.
The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed
to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all.
Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to
take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at
twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men
with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the
crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A
million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over
the golden mountains.
And the smell of rot fills the country.
Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it
makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along
the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter
the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the
earth.
There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a
sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here
that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree
rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of
pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And
coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because
the food must rot, must be forced to rot.


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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:36 PM

2. Unsure of the specifics here, so I'm on the fence. Yet many USDA / New Deal agricultural programs

are outmoded. There's a whole array of items that were used at the time to support growers that don't fit today's realities.

The lawsuit about constitutionality is frivilous though, imo. Will be interesting to see how SCOTUS rules.

Another snip from the article adds some more info -

Believing the scheme to be outdated and unfair, the Hornes joined with several other growers to evade the system and sell their raisins independently. They were hit with an order to pay a $483,843 civil fine.

They sued, but lost in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges said the Hornes should have filed a claim in a special claims court.

Over the objections of the Department of Agriculture, the high court said it would hear the growers' arguments that they were denied "just compensation" as required by the Constitution, making the program an illegal "taking" of private property.


The whole piece is worth a read. There's more here than the headline can cover.

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 07:47 PM

5. "...federal marketing program that can take nearly half of their crop..."

So I'm confused.

The Feds just pull up during harvest time and haul away "nearly" (what exactly does that mean) half of their crop?

Since we've seen how well, free/unregulated markets work out, are they sure they want this?

I'm thinking more about, SURE, take away the regs...and see how fast the market collapses and drives dozens and dozens of growers
out of business forever.

Slippery slope?

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 08:14 PM

8. The specific percentages are in the article. (nt)

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 07:52 PM

6. Are they opposing federal subsidies too?

Because they go together. Aren't these farmers paid to keep their crops off the market?

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 09:08 PM

9. The prosecution calls its first witness...

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 02:40 PM

10. The Raisin Industry is a welfare queen.

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 03:53 PM

11. Pretty sure you have to sign up for the price support program - i.e. this is part of the trade-off

The article is poorly written, but when I was growing up, but my Dad had to agree to a quantity (of wheat) in order to receive the government price supports. This is/was the cost of getting the price support. This is part of the program.

I don't believe you are forced to take the price support (and therefore, you can sell everything you raise, but likely at a lower price for all of it).

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Response to askeptic (Reply #11)

Sun Nov 25, 2012, 04:52 AM

15. This program was started because of the huge numbers of bankrupt

farmers in the 1930s. Farmers could organize and agree on quotas for themselves, but it is unlikely they will ever do that.

You get booms and busts in agriculture and people go hungry. Grapes? Not a staple in most families. Maybe we should just let them go boom and bust and see what they learn from it.

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Response to rachel1 (Original post)

Thu Nov 22, 2012, 06:24 PM

12. The global food waste scandal.....



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