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Farming Rights Threatened In California Legal Case
A California land-use case moving through the federal court system should concern farm landowners in all 50 states. It involves “an outrageous federal denial of due process rights and property rights”, says the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the defendant in the case.
  In February, 2013 – without any notice, hearing, or evidence of an on-site investigation – federal officials ordered Duarte Nursery, Inc. of Modesto, Calif. to shut down its wheat farm in Tehama County in northern California. The Army Corps of Engineers claimed that “deep” plowing was disturbing “wetlands”. The PLF says the feds issued this decree without first investigating the alleged infraction or learning the facts.
  No deep plowing had taken place, and there hadn’t been plowing of any kind on or near wetlands, the Duartes say. The PLF wrote in a news release that “Federal regulators threw due process rights out the window when they ordered a halt to wheat-growing operations on private farmland in Tehama County without giving the property owners advance notice or opportunity for a hearing”.
  On behalf of the Duarte family, PLF is suing the Army Corps of Engineers over this regulatory decree that shut down a productive farm without justification. The PLF says the Corps and the EPA are proposing changes to the Clean Water Act, which has significant implications for farmers and ranchers. The EPA issued suggested changes that alter what “waters of the United States” means – specifically, the Clean Water Act’s unique word “navigable”. The Corps desires to expand its authority over wetlands, “leaving farmers in dire situations with land that is unable to be properly farmed”.
  As of late 2014 the Duartes have been burdened with significant costs because of the legal action. They’ve gone through two seasons of not being able to produce crops on their property.
  The Pacific Legal Foundation is a donor-supported legal-watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, free enterprise and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Pacific Legal Foundation, 930 G Street, Sacramento, Calif. 95814 (ph 916 419-7111; www.pacificlegal.org). Lorn Manthey, Contributing Editor

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1