A federal appeals court has ruled against a California raisin grower who refused to abide by a marketing order requirement to set aside reserve tonnage with the Raisin Administrative Committee.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reviewed the case several years ago and determined the grower was liable for numerous regulatory violations and imposed a fine of $695,000. Marvin and Laura Horne, doing business as Raisin Valley Farms, Kerman, Calif., allegedly have not paid the fine.
The Hornes have been fighting the reserve tonnage requirement since the 2002-03 and 2003-04 crop years, according to court documents. At that time they restructured their business in an attempt to operate outside the marketing order’s definitions of producer and handler, according to a May 9 opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The growers contend the marketing order’s reserve tonnage requirement amounts to illegal “takings” by the federal government, which is often referred to as the Constitution’s eminent domain clause. In the two crop years in question, the Raisin Administrative Committee set the reserve tonnage at 47% and 30%, respectively.
The case has been through the federal court system, going all the way to the Supreme Court on a procedural point, and coming back to the Ninth Circuit. The high court ruled that the growers could proceed with their challenge before paying the USDA fine.
In its opinion, the appeals court told the Hornes that they needed to go through the USDA and Congress if they wanted changes to the marketing order.