(Oct. 24) Continually having to fight for the planting prohibition is getting old.

The prohibition, which keeps growers of program crops from planting fruits or vegetables on their already subsidized land, is a target for many.

The prohibition just seems to get in the way of larger trade machinations. In Brazil’s big fight over U.S. cotton subsidies, a World Trade Organization panel found that U.S. subsidies to cotton growers were trade-distorting because the payments were made only if cotton growers did not plant fruits and vegetables on their program acres.

Even some in Congress want it gone.

It took the combined pressure of 30 fruit and vegetable groups to get the Senate Agriculture Committee to reject lifting the planting prohibition.

The heat might be off for now, but the topic is sure to be central in negotiating the 2007 farm bill.

In a scenario without the prohibition, a decade-old study puts the damage to the produce industry at potentially $3 billion. A new study is forthcoming, but Arizona State University won’t have it completed until December. Who knows what damage that report might foretell?

What is clear is that the produce industry has a vested interest in ensuring that growers not be allowed to plant fruits or vegetables on land that is already being subsidized.

In a market economy, anything else is not fair.