WASHINGTON – While President Donald Trump has cut over 800 regulations during just his first six months in office, freeing up small businesses to grow and prosper, one California farmer is hoping that his administration will drop a costly lawsuit held over from the Obama years.

So he can pursue his livelihood, farming, without the shadow of a misapplied regulation.

John Duarte, a farmer and owner of Duarte Nursey, Inc., planted winter wheat in 2012 on land that he owns in Tehema County, California. In February 2013, he received a cease-and-desist order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the Duarte family in this case.

The cease-and-desist order was based on allegations that the Duartes, in plowing their own land, had violated the Clean Water Act, which is supposed to govern “navigable waters” in the U.S., according to the EPA’s website.

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Under the Obama administration, the government expanded this definition to include even soggy areas on agricultural land, which can be as small as pools of standing water that only appear in the wet seasons of the year in areas that are normally entirely dry. Farming practices in general are supposed to be exempt from the Clean Water Act.

John Duarte attributes this cease-and-desist order to a mistake made in the government office. In a July 16 statement posted on the Duarte Nursery Facebook page, Duarte said: “Wheat plantings and the shallow tillage involved have never triggered regulation, nor required permitting prior to this case. The prosecution got started when a federal bureaucrat confused the shallow 4-6 inch tillage operation with 3-4 feet deep ripping for vineyard or orchard preparation.”

This kind of mistake is forgivable, given that Duarte Nursery does sell trees and vines. However, when it was discovered that they were planting wheat instead of an orchard or vineyard, the government should have dropped the case and left the Duartes in peace, his lawyers said.

Instead, the bureaucrats doubled down.

The government denied the Duartes a hearing to establish the facts, prompting them to sue the government for taking away their Fifth Amendment right to due process.

And the feds responded to the family’s lawsuit with one against the family, for “destruction” of wetlands.

If the Duartes lose the suits, they will be force to pay $2.8 million in direct penalties, plus another $20-$30 million in additional mitigation to a private third-party organization, and they will lose the right to use their own land, according to Duarte’s statement.

So far, all the legal action taken against the Duartes has been by Obama administration officials.

Since the government side of the suit is now owned by the Trump administration, there may be hope that the government will drop the suit and leave the Duartes in peace.

EPA Director Scott Pruit has indicated sympathy with the Duartes, and members of Congress have petitioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the case against the California farmers.

President Trump has already directed that the EPA review the rules concerning what constitutes “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act, which could lead to the case against the Duartes being thrown out anyway.

The government has been arguing that the exemptions granted for farming and plowing only apply if soil is not moved. Duarte said in his statement that he and other farmers “have yet to understand how plowing can be done without moving soil.”

“If this unprecedented prosecution succeeds, it threatens nearly every farm in the United States,” Duarte warned.

As well as suing for due process under the Fifth Amendment, the Duartes are arguing that the amount of fines being levied against them for simply plowing a wheat field violates the Eighth Amendment’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment. In addition, after a federal attorney said “they are suing us so we are suing them back,” the Duartes are suing the government for attempting to stifle their First Amendment right to free speech.

In June 2016, a judge sided with the federal government against the Duartes, saying they had indeed violated the Clean Water Act by plowing their wheat field. They have appealed the judge’s decision to throw out the First Amendment retaliation case to the Ninth Circuit Court, and the case will begin there on Aug. 15.

See Charlie Daniels in his latest starting role, in “Revelation: Dawn of Global Government,” which explains how America, Christianity and liberty all are being destroyed by the Trojan horse of globalism.


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