Outlaw Raisin Farmer Defies Uncle Sam
For 11 years, Marvin Horne has refused to turn over crop to 'raisin reserve'
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2013 1:30 PM CDT
Updated Jul 13, 2013 6:50 AM CDT
   (PRNewsFoto/California Raisin Marketing Board)

(Newser) – Get ready to read the weirdest fact you're likely to encounter all month: There exists in our country a national raisin reserve. And a 68-year-old California raisin farmer has spent the last 11 years fighting it. The Washington Post reports the very unusual and very fascinating story of Marvin Horne, who it dubs the greatest "outlaw ... in the world of dried fruit." For more than a decade, Horne has been defying a Truman-era regulation that for the past 64 years has given the USDA the ability to seize a portion of farmers' raisin crops if it believes supply will outpace demand; the fruit is deposited in locations around California, where it can be sold to foreigners, fed to cows, or just sit.

And while the intention is to drive up the prices the remaining crop can fetch, the feds often don't pay the farmers for what they do take (revenue from overseas sales goes first to storage, related salaries, and the promotion of raisins). In 2002, Horne had had enough, and stopped complying. He has since racked up $650,000 in fines, logged 1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins, and notched himself one Supreme Court decision. The court last month ruled that a lower court has to decide whether Marketing Order 989 is constitutional. (The Wall Street Journal has a good succinct recap of the legal wranglings here.) The Post piece is full of colorful lines from Horne, among them: "The hell with the whole mess. ... It’s like being a serf. ... You have heard of the rape of the Sabine women? This is even worse." The Post has more on his ordeal, which included private eyes staking out his farm. (And in other, less contentious, farm news, two Minnesota farmers made an amazing find in their cornfield.)

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Showing 3 of 63 comments
right2dave
Jul 15, 2013 6:58 AM CDT
One third of the world starves and the US goverment does this?
orlandojonny
Jul 14, 2013 3:02 PM CDT
If you see anything but a stupid incompetent federal government here...your blind
ChuChu
Jul 13, 2013 8:53 AM CDT
Awesome! He benefits from the price protection of the program and then refuses to participate in that which made that price protection possible....probably keeping him afloat as a "raisin producer". Like so many Americans these days he takes the benefits of the social contract (the price protection program for these farmers that we all pay for) and then decries and defies his responsibilities. Classic. It is much like people whose roads and other infrustructure cost far more per capita per mile because they live in rural areas. Those in cities (the great economic engines) all "supplement" the rural lifestyle choice with our tax dollars while we in the cities (with a way lower cost per capita per mile of roadway/infrustructure/etc.) pay more than our share to make up for their rural lifestyle location infrustructure freeloading. When are these rural freeloaders gonna pick up the real costs of their tab? Never. They enjoy the benefits of the social contract and cry and whine about the responsibilities. In addition they cry about and criticize the states (like California) that pay their own way and additionally help in great part monetarily to pick up the tab for these "Real American's" way of life in Fox News - Rush Limbaugh land. The great rural freeloaders and whiners of America. I got your tea bag hangin' right here, Cletis. Raisins suck and so does this guy and so does the program. The jackass should have been allowed to go under.