Central California raisin producers are sharply divided over the Raisin Marketing Order’s Rules that “take” a substantial part of each year’s crop from producers without payment or the fair market value for the taken crop.
On March 26, a group of Producers, suing the United States for “just compensation” under US Const Amend V, presented their briefs to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. The briefs informed the Court that the core issue presented in the case is framed by the Raisin Marketing Order.
David Domina, of Domina Law Group pc llo , writing for the Producers, told the Court:
The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, enacted in 1937,
and the Raisin Marketing Order, enacted in 1949, were adopted to increase prices of farm products and maintain price stability. Now, the statute and regulation are putting raisin producers out of business, and skewing markets against producers. This case challenges the constitutionality of the Raisin Marketing Order, which allows the USDA, and its agent, the Raisin Advisory Committee, to take a portion of the producers’ annual crop, assume absolute ownership and control over what is taken, and pay nothing for it. Thrusting an involuntary, whimsically declared possibility of a small dividend from a Reserve Raisin Pool on dividend terms unguided by law and not measured by fair market value, does not save the Raisin Order from the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause.
Domina described the specific issues as:
1. Under these circumstances, does the Government deprive the Appellant Raisin Producers of sticks in the bundle of raisin ownership rights, and does it do so without just compensation contrary to US Const Amend V?
2. Are Appellants entitled to proceed with their case to class certification and then trial because their Complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted?
The Government’s brief will be due in late April. It will be followed by a reply brief from the Producers. Oral argument will occur late this year, and a decision is expected in early 2008.
The raisin case has been followed closely by a number of California Ag groups in a variety of crop areas, as it is expected that the decision may impact USDA Marketing Orders affecting a number of Ag products across the country.
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