Local Congressman Takes On The U.S. Raisin Reserve

Aug 9, 2013

Credit Jens Wilmer / Flickr / Creative Commons

A local congressman is taking up a fight on Capitol Hill that has almost nothing to do with Florida. U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fort Myers, has introduced a bill that would dismantle the federal government’s raisin reserve.

A little-known federal agency called the Raisin Administrative Committee runs the reserve, which is used to control the price of raisins.

This means many farmers—mostly in California—have to periodically hand over some of their raisins to the federal government.

Sometimes those excess raisins are sold overseas or given to needy schoolchildren. The farmers usually don’t get much in return.

Radel, a Tea Party favorite, said he is working to get eliminate the agency because it’s unconstitutional and amounts to theft.

“They are going in and taking raisins from raisin farmers and not compensating them,” he said.

Although no raisins are produced in Florida, Radel said he is looking to rescind what he said is the government’s heavy-handed input in the market.

“I have no dog in this fight with one exception: the American taxpayer and protecting you and your money,” he said.

This summer, the Supreme Court opened the door for California raisin farmers to challenge the Depression-era law that created the legal framework that allows the government to take the raisins.