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US Government Orders Farmers To Destroy 30 Million Pounds Of Their Own Crop

US Government Orders Farmers To Destroy CropsIn one of the worst examples of government regulation and intrusion, the US government ordered Michigan cherry farmers to literally dump 30 million pounds of cherries on the ground. Even worse, many cherry farmers are being driven out of business because of the outrageous rules.

The practice is coming to national light because of a new lawsuit against the government filed by a cherry processor. A judge currently is considering issue.

“The food pantry shelves are bare, people going hungry, and here we are dumping millions of pounds of cherries on the ground,” Michigan cherry grower Rob Manigold said of the 2009 incident. That was the same year farmer Leonard Ligon dumped 72,000 pounds of tart cherries along a road outside Traverse City, Michigan, to protest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations on his state’s cherries.

Dumping along the road was one of the few things that Ligon could legally do with the cherries he had grown on his own property. Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, a bureaucracy called the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB) tells farmers how many tart cherries they can sell. The board ordered Michigan farmers to keep 65 percent of their crop off the market in 2009, Bridge Magazine reported. Last year farmers were allowed to sell only 90 percent of their crop.

The Bizarre World of US Cherry Regulation

The way in which the USDA regulates cherries is completely bizarre. The CIAB’s rulings only affect one kind of cherry, tart cherries, and they only cover cherries grown in one state: Michigan.

Discover The Only Way Back To True Freedom And Liberty In America…

That means a tart cherry farmer in Oregon is free to sell all of his crop, but a tart cherry farmer on Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula is not. Nor are there any restrictions on tart cherries imported from other countries. That has actually created a situation in which the US imported tart cherries from Canada and even Poland as Michigan farmers were dumping their crop on the ground.

“It’s not that we didn’t have the capacity to process, hold or sell the cherries. They’re telling us that if we do, it would somehow be destructive,” Bill Sherman of cherry processor Burnett Foods in Elk Rapids, Michigan, said. “There were growers that literally dumped them alongside the road.”

Under the restrictions, the CIAB puts severe limitations on how many cherries can be sold out of Michigan. Tart cherries are used as an ingredient in juice, baked goods, pie fillings and jams or jellies.

That leaves Michigan farmers at a disadvantage if they grow a large crop. It also forces Michigan processors like Sherman to import tart cherries from Ontario or other states even as farmers in their area are throwing cherries out.

1930s System Hurts Modern Farmers

The regulations on tart cherries were set up during the Great Depression of the 1930s in an attempt to protect farmers. The idea was to keep crops off the market and drive prices up. Nowadays some farmers complain that the regulations make cherry farming unprofitable.

“The farther I get away from the tart cherry business the better as far as I’m concerned,” Manigold told The Traverse City Record-Eagle in 2009. “My whole focus right now is to convert to wine grapes.”

Wine grapes, unlike tart cherries, are not regulated by the USDA.

“All I’m saying to the tourists and joggers and others in this town is that life on the farm is not always profitable,” Ligon, the cherry dumping farmer, said, “and we’re losing our (cherry) producers.”

Low tart cherry prices are making it difficult to farm at a time when farm-related costs keep rising, farmer David White complained. White believes the restrictions can raise tart cherry prices but they also prevent high prices in the market which could benefit farmers.

The restriction “takes the peaks and valleys out (of cherry prices), but it really knocks the peak off,” White said. “Our costs on the farm keep going up. Some of our biggest costs, spraying for insects and fungal diseases, keep ratcheting up. And you know the price of fuel is going up. And we’re not seeing the results in our pricing. When you adjust for inflation, I think we’re going the wrong direction.”

System Called Outdated

“This is New Deal legislation when farming was 40 acres and a mule,” Sherman said. “Agriculture is nothing like that now.”

Sherman’s company has sued the USDA in an attempt to get the tart cherry restrictions overturned. Burnett’s attorneys claim that the CIAB is dominated by representatives of the frozen cherry business who set quotas in such a way as to drive up prices for their products.

Do you believe the government should regulate how many cherries are on the market? Tell us in the comments section below.

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  1. I’m not totally sure of this, but I believe the farmers themselves voted in these regulations. I think it happened shortly after we received one cent a pound for the crop around the year 2000. I know I left the business soon there after.

    • the general populace NEVER votes on regulations.

      REgulations are created by an unaccountable, unConstitutional govt agency.

      Sure blame the victims here.

  2. Ignore the stupidity of these idiots and sell your products or at least, give the surplus to charity.

    • if they ignore regulations and sell their crops they lose their government farm subsidies. I doubt they want to lose 100s of thousands of dollars a year. this is done to regulate the market and keep prices down. The government and farmers couldn’t care less that people are starving both in the US and abroad. As long as the market price is held high. Capitalism is for sociopaths.

  3. Yes, The farmers did vote this in. and it has been a pretty good thing. Off the grid news would know this because they are not farmers

  4. Sorry folks, but ANY government regulation of any commodity is a BAD thing for everyone. It may be a great band-aid for a temporary situation, but once you give these people control over something, they will never give it back. Remove price and export controls and let the free market work. Prosecute those buyers who collude to suppress prices too.

  5. Since when does a federal regulation have control over a Michigan citizen? Why is it a regulation and not a law? We the people have a right to contract with out government interference. US constitution article 1 sec 10No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility. Oh would you look at what kind of money we r suppose to have and only congress is to make it not the fed(private bankers).
    Michigan constitution § 10 Attainder; ex post facto laws; impairment of contracts.
    Sec. 10. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law or law impairing the obligation of contract shall be enacted. Unless you are a US citizen federal gov has no jurisdiction over you.
    305.01 Definition of U.S. Citizen (FSM)
    SR 01-24 Dated 08/01
    Previous Policy
    U.S. citizens are:
    • individuals born in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Swain’s Island;
    • foreign-born children, under age 18, residing in the U.S. with their birth or adoptive parents, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization; and
    • individuals granted citizenship status by Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
    Do you see states of the union in there?
    That is all federal territory.
    Where are we the people at? We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union etc.
    We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom etc.
    Sec. 1. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit,
    security and protection.

    • You are kidding right? They accept government farm subsidies and they destroy crops for it. It’s almost like Americans don’t know how their system works……

      • colleenkelly said, “It’s almost like Americans don’t know how their system works……”

        They don’t. The solution to the problem is to educate as many as you can. If you put them down and make them feel like excrement they close their minds.

        Suggesting this happens and then providing the evidence when they ask “Is that true?” goes a long way to opening their eyes to the problem.

  6. This is NOT a function granted to the federal government by the Constitution. Even when I was a little kid, I somehow knew that FDR was a bad guy. Since learning my history, I’ve dubbed him the Great Socialist. These are restrictions imposed from a much earlier time, whether they were voted by farmers or not. It’s an unconstitutional regulation and should be repealed.

    Market forces should be sufficient to manage the market!

  7. If they feel they must regulate the sale of Tart Cherries (or any other crop), the least it could do is favor American farmers over foreign farmers. Just another way our USDA & legal system forces us to shoot ourselves in the foot while supporting foreign trade.

  8. Ignore the government in cases like this, treat them as if they have no authority. When enough
    people do ignore them they will have no authority. Don’t report an accurate harvest and sell
    part of it for cash through brokers to obscure where it really comes from. Miss report the species
    planted. All sorts of thing you can do to bypass this sort of interference.

  9. This law is horrible. That being said. Could the cherry growers donate to food banks, the underprivileged, churches etc.. Instead of dumping and wasting the cherries?

  10. This is clearly unconstitutional if it applies to just the one state. The Federal government isn’t allowed to do that.

  11. Government has outlived its usefullness

  12. Not surprised that this stems from a 1930’s FDR era rule….remember, FDR and his ag secretary were using numerology and wild guesses to regulate the price of ag products while people starved to death.For example one morning they decided to slaughter six million pigs to regulate the price of pork. FDR’s new deal ABC programs are all still on the books, whether we need them or not. Bureaucracy at its worse….

  13. I see one BIG issue with this law – it doesn’t protect the farmers because we aren’t restricting imports or balancing produce from other states.

    If tart cherries are pricing at $5 a bucket (example here), and stores can get them imported or from another state for $1 a bucket, they see that as a good choice because of the profit. Then we left with local farmer not being able to sell their produce. The thought of trying to restrict sales to drive the price up only works if all sales are restricted as well as imports. It would seem to me that this restriction would just drive grocers to buy more imported cherries at a lower price to sell them even higher and make more profits citing that they can’t get local fruit for decent prices. Cherries can be used for many things, citing jams, jelly, desserts, frozen foodstuffs, and canned filling. It would make more sense to open the restrictions and let prices eb and peak again, or allow farmers the option to hold back fruit to sell later when it does peak by having it processed and stored at the farmers will. Cutting off imported fruit makes the most sense, why import it when we can grow it? I’d pay $1-2 more for local/USA grown food.

  14. There are quite a few inaccuracies in this article. Growers were allowed to sell 100% of their crop last year. The first Federal Marketing Order was put in place in the early 70s, not the 30s. Michigan is not the only state regulated under the Marketing Order. I’m not sure that the author has the facts right with the imports.

    There have been two Marketing Orders put in place, both voted in by the growers. In my opinion, it’s been a good thing. When there was no Marketing Order in place during the mid 90s, the price went to a NICKLE a pound. Since the second Marketing Order has been in place, we have seen a more steady and better price. We have only had to dump cherries twice in the 50 years my family has grown cherries. (due to very large crops)

    If the Marketing Order is removed and the price goes to a nickle again, that’s when I call i quits.

  15. Let the general public know when & where you’re going to “dump” and we can bring our own containers & take them off your hands for a donation! I’m in Fl., raised in Ohio. Love tart cherries & would gladly drive north for your cherries! What about “Farmer’s Markets”?!

  16. …that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable.

  17. It’s market forces that make crop destruction necessary. Economics 101: if your product is scarce and there’s a lot of demand for it, prices go up. If you have lots of a product and there is either no demand for it or not enough people can afford it, it becomes worthless. This is what caused the Great Depression, which ironically led to the supposedly socialist New Deal and greater regulation of industry. Destroying crops while millions starve is not socialism, it’s the cruelty of an economy based on supply and demand.

    “There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” – John Steinbeck, 1939

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