A man plowed his own field, and now the US Attorney's Office is trying to fine him $2.8 million. What the actual fuck? Thank you for joining me on the fortieth episode of The LAVA Spurt, Plowed by the Feds. This episode is brought to you by Praxis, where you can get a full-time job in nine months making $50,000 a year with no college degree. Also brought to you by Wry Guys t-shirts, the makers of all of the Pax Libertas Productions t-shirts, including for this show. A wry wit for today's shit.

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.

Anthony Francois, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning nonprofit that fights for private property rights and limited government, said, “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. We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations.”

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

The case began in 2012 when John Duarte, who owns Duarte Nursery near Modesto, Calif., bought 450 acres about 10 miles south of Red Bluff. Duarte was planning to grow wheat on his property. 

 

Read Full Transcript

A man plowed his own field, and now the US Attorney's Office is trying to fine him $2.8 million. What the actual fuck? Thank you for joining me on the fortieth episode of The LAVA Spurt, Plowed by the Feds. This episode is brought to you by Praxis, where you can get a full-time job in nine months making $50,000 a year with no college degree. Also brought to you by Wry Guys t-shirts, the makers of all of the Pax Libertas Productions t-shirts, including for this show. A wry wit for today's shit.

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.

Anthony Francois, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning nonprofit that fights for private property rights and limited government, said, “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. We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations."

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

The case began in 2012 when John Duarte, who owns Duarte Nursery near Modesto, Calif., bought 450 acres about 10 miles south of Red Bluff. Duarte was planning to grow wheat on his property.

_______________

Advertisement:

Look, guys, I'm sure you know that student loan debt is at a collective 1.4 Trillion dollars with 25% of graduates still struggling to find meaningful employment. Instead of being a statistic, you can choose to live life on your own terms and join the intellectually-stimulating, collaborative community of Praxis. While getting a paid apprenticeship with a dynamic growing company, Praxis participants receive intensive professional development that they describe as: freedom, empowerment, creativity, progress, achievement, inspiring, and challenging that leads directly to a full-time job. To learn more about how you can ignite your future with this fire-starting collaborative community of Praxis, go to discoverpraxis.com/lava.

_______________

Because the property has numerous swales and wetlands, Duarte hired a consulting firm to map out areas on the property that were not to be plowed because they were part of the drainage for Coyote and Oat creeks and were considered “waters of the United States.”

Francois conceded that some of the wetlands were plowed but not significantly damaged. He said the ground was plowed to a depth of 4 to 7 inches.

The Army Corps did not claim Duarte violated the Endangered Species Act by destroying fairy shrimp or their habitat, Francois said.

This particular freshwater species is unique to California and southern Oregon and has been classified as a threatened species since 1994 because much of its wetlands in California's Central Valley were converted to cropland or became urban.

Duarte's wheat was planted but not harvested because in February 2013 the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to stop work at the site. The agencies claimed Duarte had violated the Clean Water Act by not obtaining a permit to discharge dredged or fill material into seasonal wetlands considered waters of the United States.

Duarte sued the Army Corps and the state, alleging they violated his constitutional right of due process 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.

Duarte disturbed portions of the property that included wetland areas, the U.S. attorney alleges.

In addition to civil penalties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is also asking the judge to order Duarte to repair the damage to the wetlands, including smoothing out the soil and replanting native plants in the wetlands.

He also may be required to purchase other wetlands to compensate for the alleged damage to the property south of Red Bluff, according to the government’s proposed penalties.

Francois said he thought the proposed penalties were unfair. His client thought the plowing exemption allowed him to till the soil.

“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?”

DROP WRY GUYS AUDIO

This is a clear case of government over-reach. Duarte purchased this property with his own money to do with as he chooses, and yet, the government is trying to tell him that he can't, all because of some shrimp. A fucking shrimp. This is just another way the government finds a way to control our everyday lives, and, it if frankly the entire purpose, the reason d'etre, of the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is further proof that Duerte, and all of us, don't actually own the land that we claim we own. The government does. They can dictate to us exactly what we can, and more importantly, can't, do to our own property. If you don't believe me, don't pay your property taxes on your land, or try to build something on your land without the required inspections and permits and fees. You'll find out really quickly how free you really are, and how much ownership you have of your property.

A case that hits really close to home for me is a development area in Milton, NH, where my family lives. A company bought 90 acres of land in the area to build single family, duplexes and multifamily housing on the property. The town is going fucking nuts, starting with a lady literally making the "Not in My Back Yard" argument because this property is behind hers and would ruin her view. If she wanted to keep that view, then she should have bought the 90 acres before this company did. Others are making the argument that additional housing in the area would cause over-use of government roads and government schools. Well, that sounds like a government problem for me and is a case for less government involvement, not more. I guarantee the free-market would quickly find a way to adapt to having more people living in the area and fill the needs quickly. But, everyone is so used to government change happening at a snail's pace, so they can't conceive of any other way of these issues being resolved. So, the city government is poised to tell the private company that they cannot build what they want on their own private property. For shame. And this is just one of hundreds or thousands of examples.

When are we going to learn that government does not fix our problems, government causes our problems. Sadly, we live in a world where it's easier to convince people to give half their salary to the government, send their kids to die in wars, and surrender their freedoms for false security than it is to convince people that it's possible for society to function without government.

Until next time... keep striking the root!

 

Ask a question or share some feedback!

  • Email feedback@thelavaflow.com (audio files welcome)
  • Like our Facebook page
  • Send me a tweet @TheLAVAFlowPod
  • Advertise on The LAVA Flow and other Pax Libertas Productions podcasts
  • Help support The LAVA Flow!

  • One-Time Support Using Bitcoin
  • Per-Episode Support Using Bitcoin
  • Per-Episode Support Using Federal Reserve Notes on Patreon
  • Check out more libertarian podcasts on the Pax Libertas Productions Network

  • Resist the Empire - A libertarian view of the Star Wars universe
  • Ancap Barber Shop - Your barber chair for all things anarcho-capitalist and voluntaryist.
  • Freecoast Freecast - You premier source for libertarian news, philosophy, and events on the Seacoast of New Hampshire
  • Share This