Repeat after me: state regulation is always a sane and desirable thing…
WHETHER the obscure statute that governs America’s raisin trade is constitutional, Elena Kagan is not sure. She and her fellow Supreme Court justices are pondering that question at the moment, and will rule shortly. But she sounds reasonably confident that the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 is “the world’s most outdated law”.
Since the 1940s raisin farmers have been obliged to make over a portion of their crop to a government agency called the Raisin Administrative Committee. The committee, run by 47 raisin farmers and packers, along with a sole member of the raisin-eating public, decides each year how many raisins the domestic market can bear, and thus how many it should siphon off to preserve an “orderly” market. It does not pay for the raisins it appropriates, and gives many of them away, while selling others for export. Once it has covered its own costs, it returns whatever profits remain to farmers. In some years there are none. Worse, farmers sometimes forfeit a substantial share of their crop: 47% in 2003 and 30% in 2004, for example.
Participation in this Brezhnevite scheme is mandatory. […]
Read the rest at America’s raisin regime: De minimis curat lex | The Economist.