Sunday, June 12, 2016

Farmers and Ranchers May Sue to Stop Clean Water Regulation of Ordinary Farmland

Its almost folklore, the story about farmers being targeted and sued by Monsanto over trivial cross pollination events. In reality, only the most deliberate and egregious violations have ever been taken to court. However, if we are really concerned about predatory litigation practices, we find the EPA/US Army Corps of Engineers taking legal actions that could lead to imposing fines up to $37,000 per day on farmers found in violation of a tangling web of regulations related to clean water rules. The tide may be turning.


United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.

"A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled landowners may challenge the federal government whenever the Army Corps of Engineers tries improperly to regulate land with regulations designed to protect water....Today's decision removes a huge roadblock that has prevented landowners from obtaining relief from the courts when the Corps illegally claims their land is federally regulated water"

More details of an interesting case where one farmer sued the EPA and won: 

About three months later, the Johnsons received an administrative order in the mail threatening a fine of $37,500 per day over the completed project. The agency wanted the Johnsons to rip out the stock pond, hire a consultant to revise a new plan, and submit it within ten days. “I knew the minute that I got the administrative order it was wrong,” Johnson says. “I told my wife we aren’t going to do this. It would have costs us $50,000 to $70,000 to do what they wanted us to do, going through a consultant and all the hoops to rip the pond out.” The Johnsons decided to fight back and in the end, they won.

You can also get more details with an interview with Andy Johnson on Agritalk  (May 19):

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