A farmer faces $2.8 million fine after he bought 450 acres of land and began plowing it

A farmer faces trial in federal court this summer and a $2.8 million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his field and plant wheat in Tehama County.

A lawyer for Duarte Nursery said the case is important because it could set a precedent requiring other farmers to obtain costly, time-consuming permits just to plow their fields.

“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.

However, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller agreed with the Army Corps in a judgment issued in June 2016. A penalty trial, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office asks for $2.8 million in civil penalties, is set for August.

Francois contends that farmers are exempt from the Clean Water Act rules when they plow. The government disagrees.

“Even under the farming exemption, a discharge of dredged or fill material incidental to the farming activities that impairs the flow of the waters of the United States still requires a permit, because it changes the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters,” the U.S. attorney wrote in court documents.

The government wants Duarte to repair the wetlands and replant certain plants.

“A plain reading of the rules says you don’t need a permit to do what he did,” Francois told the Record Spotlight. “How do you impose a multimillion penalty on someone for thinking the law says what it says.”

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44 Responses to "A farmer faces $2.8 million fine after he bought 450 acres of land and began plowing it"

  1. MDS says:

    Ill tell you what I think….I think you didn’t post what the law says so how the hell am I supposed to think anything. All I know is you said it said….and that said said nothing.

  2. Marie says:

    You can’t really ask what people think without providing the exact wording of the rule/law and information about the land that was plowed and the waterway that was effected. You’re asking for people to react to an empty story if you don’t give the details. It’s a pretty poor writing form.

  3. Rebecca Wilson says:

    This case is a disgrace to the American people! Permits to plow your own land?? This country is falling apart if this is what it has come to in America if our farmers are being harassed for plowing his field.
    Permits are absolutely ridicules demanding this from our farmers! This case needs thrown out and the permits required are crazy. Leave our farmers alone they grow our foods and work like dogs for pennies

  4. Jennifer says:

    This is flat out stupid, if you don’t let farmers farm their land, where do you think food will come from? My next question is, why are you acting on the usually minimal actions caused by plowing and do nothing about the devastation caused by Roundup and other poisons!???@

  5. Kristie Dupey says:

    This is government out of control. There should not be a permit to plow and there should not be government control over farmers.

  6. cyndy says:

    Yes it is wrong and are theyvtrying to run the farmers out if so this country will starve

  7. melinda sims says:

    Well, in the eyes of the law, plowing the field alters how water flowes in that field. You have to have irrigation for the crops to grow adiquetly so in the laws eyes, in order to grow crops successfully you need a permit to alter water flow. Tho that fine is pretty outrageous.. especially for a first time offense. I would contest it just so the law could be rewritten under a special clause so other future farmers don’t get screwed over like this gentleman.

  8. Steve Rader says:

    A farmer should not have to get a permit to plow his fields or plant it . This is the stupid regulations our government imposes . He bought the land it is his to do with as he wants . Remember those farmers feed us all .

  9. Arnold says:

    It could ad a lot of fosfate from the fertilizer runoff storm water.

  10. Arnold says:

    It could add a lot of fosfate from the fertilizer runoff storm water.

  11. Frsnk says:

    Interesting, the author held back on mentioning the property is a wetlands area until the end.

  12. Bruce says:

    Seems the government found a easy to make money off a hard working individual.

  13. Michelle Strickland says:

    If it’s zoned agricultural, no permit should be required.

  14. Kevin says:

    This sounds ridiculous there must be more here.

  15. Kenneth King says:

    Crazy. He should have dug line trench to install a gas/oil pipeline. They would have gave him 2.8 mil with no permits required.Fucking Government’s wasn’t concerned about digging contamination on the DAPL line.

  16. Christine says:

    Are they kidding? Farmers work very hard to get their crops planted in time to harvest. Do you want us all to go hungry? This is totally unnecessary. Please let them do their jobs and freed America.

  17. Mas Noyb says:

    This is just the first of many NEW WORLD ORDER Steps to control food supplies to the people, and to ultimately control the people and the world. People need to stand up and start fighting for their rights and liberties, our the NEW WORLD ORDER will happen!

  18. Valency Campbell says:

    I think it’s ridiculous! Just another way for the government to get their hands on more money!

  19. Ryan harvey says:

    Dumbest shit I’ve ever heard

  20. Brian Kocher says:

    I hope the politicians starve to death.

  21. david says:

    this I why we need trump

  22. Katie says:

    I don’t agree with the large amount of the sum, but I definitely agree that he was wrong. If it messes with the surrounding environment, he needs to fix the wetlands and replant what he destroyed!

  23. John L Hoh Jr says:

    The Swamp needs to be drained. This is ludicrous.

  24. Kate Davis says:

    Absolutely outrageous. It already costs farmers far too much to produce the crops that we need with far too many BS regulations. We are the ones who need safe, clean food which takes not only significant time and effort but a fair amount of funds. This permit is going to be the harmartia of this country. We ought to fight this and that land owner ought to be compensated for time wasted. Please publish.

  25. Connie rauch says:

    I don’t see how the government can charge someone for do what is expected of them ( i.e. farming farm land) when it’s not against the law. There are better ways to spread the word when changing laws. FIRST CHANGE THE LAW. Then put the info on media for everyone to read/ watch. Fair is fair.

  26. Jonathan says:

    This is a case of GoverMENTAL overreach, and the gov can’t even follow the rules without making up there own. This is a case not unlike the western ranches fighting off the govt but with one difference. The western ranch, the fbi stepped in and assasinated Roy Finicum, because of his resistance to the govt. I’m happy that this guy made it to court, allbeit a kangaroo court as far as the govt is concerned.

  27. Todd Christiansen says:

    Too much government. This is crazy.

  28. Donna says:

    What’s next penalties for our flower beds and lawncare ….. Things are getting ridiculous what happened to good old common sense

  29. Bruce Runion says:

    Another over reach of goverment yet if wanted to open a rock and sand quarrel they would give you a bonus for allowing sand to destroy your stream I see it all the time in Missouri

  30. Bonnie says:

    This is a bunch of bull! You own property, you should be able to do what you want with it! The government is turning more communistic by the day!
    We have been taxed, regulated and permitted to death! Leave us to live as we choose!

  31. althea Quinton says:

    That is the opposite of what the Corps have been doing all over the pipeline areas. They have destroyed mote wetlands and graveyards than any other farmer. Plus they have lied or been bought off by oil companies.

  32. Betty says:

    It is ridiculous to require farmers to obtain a permit to carry out their farming. The farmer knows more about what the land needs than the government! It smacks of the way the USSR methods of farming….too much government! We don’t have enough real farmers as it is! Government is killing farms with all their requirements!

  33. Raymond Danner says:

    Typical government thinking. It’s really dumb to fine someone for doing what he’s supposed to!

  34. Woody Woodard says:

    This is ignorant of our government. Actions like this will bankrupt farmers and cause the price of produce and crops to skyrocket to where working class citizens can’t afford them

  35. Angelo Iacomini says:

    This is ridiculous we might as Well give the country back to England

  36. Paul R Ford says:

    Judge Kimberly J Mueller should be removed from being a judge she is not what America is about if a farmer has to get a permit just to grow crops on his on land there is something really wrong with this country maybe she should have to get a permit to eat

  37. John O'Brien says:

    Just another bit of American Madness you’ll never have reliable food production with That madness

  38. Todd Howell says:

    I think this is ludicrous. Farming is a hard enough existence without having the Federal government crawling up their ass about tiny little rules and regs and trying to line the governments pockets with OUTRAGEOUS fines !

  39. EDWIN Moore says:

    I think the so called Government has gotten too big for their britches, hopefully President TRUMP will straighten these dumb asses out, this Country needs farmers more than we need dumb asses in Government!

  40. Patricia E says:

    $$ mongers rule sad situation remember FREEDOM means FREE in the hands of We The People not owned taxed regulated by USA Corporatocracy Terrorists. This applies to all farmers across this country that are illegally taxed and regulated by a government that no longer represents We The People but the $$ monger big corporation govt ;(. Live FREE GROW America great. Not again but NOW.

  41. Doug Rieck says:

    This is completely stupid. Farmer owns the land, period! No permits are required to plant, grow and harvest a crop.
    Sounds like an environmentalist is being dumb again.

  42. Aaron Daniel says:

    That’s our fucked system hard at it again

  43. Jake says:

    Yes farmers have plowed the land for years I can understand getting a permit, example as in having to redirect a stream or creek to plow a plot but to be fined for doing something that happens on a daily basis what is the world coming to now days just plain moronic if you ask me

  44. Joy Cleckley says:

    The is total cow manure!!! A farmer feeds America and doesn’t need a permit to plow his own fields. Who do these beaurocrats think they are. This will send him into bankruptcy. America is supposed to be land of the free. Is this just for a select few, sure does seem like it!!!! America wake the hell up and see the corruption!!!!!!

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