Supreme Court Ruling on Horne v. Department of Agriculture – Taking Raisins

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Horne v. Department of Agriculture on June 22, 2015.

The Department of Agriculture, through the Secretary of Agriculture, has authority to issue “marketing orders” that require growers of food goods to give up percentages of their crop to the government for free.  In this case, specifically, it was raisins.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects individuals constitutional right to personal property and prevents the government from taking people’s property without compensating them fairly.

In 2002-2003, raisin growers were required to turn over 47% of their crop to the government without any compensation, and in 2003-2004, raising growers were likewise required to turn over 30% of their annual growth yield.  Marvin and Laura Horne refused, bringing this suit all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court held that the government, specifically the Department of Agriculture, must fairly compensate raising growers that are affected by the “market orders.”

California Passes Bill Strict on Fraud at Farmers’ Markets

California passed AB 1871, which does two major things, among other provisions.  First, it restricts and criminalizes fraud at farmers’ markets in the state.  Second, it increases the daily stall fee from $0.50 to $2.

The bill first criminalizes any statement (oral, printed, or otherwise) that is misleading regarding the products area of production, producer identity and method of production.  Violation of such law is a misdemeanor, meaning 6 months (maximum) or a fine of $500-$5,000.

The rise in vendor fee is expected to raise $1.4 million annually and will be deposited into the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund.  This fund will be used to promote transparency.  Vendor fees will be used to evaluate county enforcement procedures, conduct hearings for violating these laws, maintaining a list of farmers’ market locations, maintaining lists of certified producers, and maintaining lists of producers whose certification was revoked.

This law also regulates the use and meaning of the term “California-grown,” directs the administrative agency to pass rules that regulate and promote wholesomeness of agricultural products, and regulates what constitutes a “certified” farmers’ market.

For further information on what this bill means for California, see this article.

Enlist GMO Crop Rollout Still Faces Hurdles

The USDA approved Enlist September 17, 2014.  Dow AgroScience’s new genetically-modified corn and soybean crop is resistant to the Enlist pesticide that kills all other weeds and growth in fields.  The president of Dow AgroSciences, Tim Hassinger, claims that Enlist will boost productivity for “safe and affordable food supply.”  According to Hassinger, Dow Agrobusiness has “used the latest science and technology to address problem weeds. Enlist will be a very effective solution and we’re pleased to have this technology one step closer to the farmgate.”

However, some hurdles still exist post-approval.  The founder of Center for Food Safety, Andrew Kimbrell, already plans to litigate in hopes of delaying the crops as they did with GMO sugar beets, canola, and alfalfa.

China has also begun to reject shipments of US corn based on concerns for GMO products and its lack of approval in China.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement can be found here.

Reuters

Forbes 

AgWeb