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Business Review Board / May 27, 2017

Farmer Fined For Plowing His Own Field

Once again, onerous and unnecessary regulations work to limit rather than protect individual freedoms.

A farmer in California is facing a $2.8 million fine for plowing and planting wheat on his own land. The reason — regulations tied to the Clean Water Act. Evidently, John Duarte, the farmer in question, purchase and planted 450 acres near some wetlands in 2012. The federal government then issued Duarte a fine claiming that he had failed to get the proper permits. Duarte contests the government’s claim, arguing that he had hired a consultant in order to specifically avoid running afoul of the law and that his farm falls under an exemption included in the Act.

Anthony Francois, a representative of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a law firm helping Duarte, stated, “The case is the first time that we’re aware of that says you need to get a permit to grow crops. How do you impose a multimillion penalty on someone for thinking the law says what it says?”

It would appear that this is once again another instance of the government both establishing overly controlling rules and then moving the goal posts as it sees fit. As Duarte’s case works its way through the courts, he’s hopeful that since the Justice Department is now under new leadership there is potential for suitable settlement saving him both time and money. Once again, over-regulation can prove to be detrimental rather than beneficial.

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