Among other things, these orders authorize research and promotion of commodities, establish minimum quality standards, and sometimes limit supply through volume controls.
In those cases, the federal government has effectively created fruit and vegetable cartels and is blessing a form of price fixing.
Tart cherries are not the only recent example of the egregious nature of marketing orders, and, specifically, volume controls.
In 2015, the Supreme Court’s “raisin case” (Horne v.
@darenbakst Daren Bakst studies and writes about agriculture subsidies, property rights, environmental policy, food labeling and related issues as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow in agricultural policy. The federal government forces certain fruit and vegetable (and nut) growers to limit the sale of their goods. In July, a Michigan tart cherry farmer posted a photo on Facebook showing piles of his wasted cherries that will rot on the ground.
He says 14 percent of his cherries are going to be wasted due to the Department of Agriculture’s tart cherry marketing order that limits the supply of tart cherries.
This summer isn’t the first time marketing orders have resulted in swaths of wasted tart cherries.In 2009, 30 million pounds of cherries rotted on the ground, which is allegedly “enough to serve a cherry pie to every resident of Michigan, with 5 million pies left over.” The 30 million pounds of tart cherries restricted from that year constituted 65 percent of the market.Fruit and vegetable marketing orders are a relic of the New Deal, authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937.These orders are supposed to stabilize prices for commodities.Each individual order is initiated by industry and must be approved by a two-thirds vote of growers.Each order is enforced by the USDA and is binding upon the entire industry in the covered geographic area, regardless of whether an individual agricultural producer has supported it.