A farmer is heading for federal court this summer. He faces a $2.8 million fine for not getting a permit to plow his own field in Duarte Nurseries, Tehama Country, California, the Record Searchlight reports.
It will set a precedent for all farmers to obtain costly, time-consuming permits just to plow their own fields. The Nursery is being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation.
“The case is the first time, that we’re aware of, that says you need to get a (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit to plow to grow crops,” said Anthony Francois, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation.
“We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller agreed with the Army Corps in a judgment issued in June 2016. A penalty trial is set for August.
The case began in 2012 when John Duarte, who owns Duarte Nursery near Modesto, bought 450 acres south of Red Bluff to grow wheat.
Duarte hired a consulting firm to map out areas since they were part of the “waters of the United States”. Those are private lands put under the suffocating control of the government by the stringent Clean Water Act.
He planted wheat but never harvested it because the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to stop work.
Duarte sued the Army Corps and the state, alleging they violated his constitutional right of due process under the law by issuing the cease and desist orders without a hearing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office counter-sued Duarte Nursery to enforce the Clean Water Act violation.
Farmers plowing their fields are specifically exempt from the Clean Water Act rules forbidding discharging material into U.S. waters, Francois said.
The U.S. Attorney in Sacramento, a left-wing ideologue, said the ripper used for plowing was digging deeper than the allowable inches. The U.S. also claimed the farmer ripped up wetland.
In addition to the $2.8 million, they want the farmer to return the land to its original condition, adding and smoothing soil and replanting. They want other compensation as well.
“A plain reading of the rules says you don’t need a permit to do what he did,” Francois said. “How do you impose a multimillion penalty on someone for thinking the law says what it says.”
When are we getting rid of that Clean Water Act? It’s abusive. President Trump signed an Executive Order repealing the Act but the U.S. Attorneys are ignoring it.