EPA and Regulatory Over-Reach

I read a story recently on the web about a farmer in California  that has been fined 2.8 million dollars for plowing his land without a permit from the U. S. Army  Corps of Engineers. Now it is not unusual for California to impose ridiculous regulations on their residents and then follow-up with state governmental sanctions.  However the federal government is now getting involved.

This farmer purchased 450 acres of land with the intent to plant and harvest a wheat crop. Now as I understand it, the land did have some areas on it that where covered under a 1970’s law as “wetlands or waters of the United States” and the new owner, being aware of this law, hired a “consulting” firm to evaluate the land. He knew that these “areas” should not be plowed and tried to avoid such designated places.  However he did plow parts of the restricted area. The crop was planted but the owner was not allowed to harvest it because the Army Corps of Engineers an California Central Valley Water Quality Board issued a cease  and desist order demanding all work on the property come to an end. I am sure this cost the land owner several thousand dollars.

Now they are imposing a multi-million dollar fine, all because he did not get a permit to plow his own property. I would venture a guess that it is probably tens times or more than the land is worth. They are not even claiming that he was damaging or threatening an endangered species. This fine is purely because he did not get a piece of paper allowing him to plow. Supposedly the very law that they are fining him over has an exemption specifically addressing farmers plowing their fields. So the law indicates that the owner does not need a permit, but the government is prosecuting him for not getting a permit that the law seemingly says he does not need.

If the EPA and state governments continue to make such egregious regulations and decisions that discourage farmers from planting crops because of fear that they will be fined or prosecuted it will have very detrimental effects on food production in our country. Once again the regulatory agencies are taking laws that were intended to help society by reducing pollution and using them to control the behavior of farmers to suit their political environmental agendas.

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