Feds clear farmer to plow, then slap him with millions in fines

By Paige Gilliard

November 27, 2019

Following government rules is often a tough enough task. But when federal agencies secretly move their own rules’ goalposts and then threaten millions of dollars in fines for noncompliance, it can be devastating.

Ask Jack LaPant. In 2011, the rural farmer in Tehama County, Calif., planted 900 acres of winter wheat on his property. Before he ever put a plow to the soil in his field, he sought the official views of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Both agencies assured him that since growing wheat would be consistent with past use of the land, he could legally proceed as planned.

With approval from those two federal agencies, LaPant thought he was in the clear and set about planting his wheat. More than a year later, however, he was shocked when a third federal agency came knocking on his door. LaPant had never considered consulting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, not with the go-ahead from two other farm-governing bodies. The Army Corps, nonetheless, informed him that under the Clean Water Act (CWA), he needed a permit to farm his property.

Read more at The Hill.

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