A California raisin farmer is standing up the the U.S. government against its practice of seizing a portion of his annual crop under a law that dates back to the Great Depression. The farmer faces as much as $650,000 in fines alone for his refusal to turn over his crops since 2002. Under the law, he would now owe an estimated 1.2 million pounds of raisins. That is equal to four years worth of harvests.
The farmer contends that the law is in violation of the Fifth Amendment protection against the taking of private property. The law was passed in 1937 as a means to control the supply and demand for raisin crops. Through the law, the Department of Agriculture is able to control raisin pricing by determining how much of the confiscated crop it will sell in the domestic market.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court looked at his case to determine if he had a right to challenge the law. A lower court had thrown out his claim. The Supreme Court ruled that the lower court should not have thrown the case out and should look at it on its merits. It is not a complete victory, but it keeps the farmer’s challenge to the law in the courts.