Why Congressman John Duarte is Fighting Back after Having Been Fined $1.1 Million Over His Farm

Rep. John Duarte (R-CA), who is freshman member of Congress. In 2017, he paid a $1.1 million settlement after a lawsuit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for mowing the wheat in a field on his farm, which had been designated as wetlands. Photo courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation.

Imagine being fined $1.1 million by the federal government because of a dispute over your farmland! That’s what happened to one farmer who is now fighting as a Congressman from having that happen to you and your farmland!

“If the Army Corps of Engineers can prosecute me for planting wheat in this wheat field, based on the set of facts they used there, then almost no farm in America is safe from the same type of prosecution,” says Rep. John Duarte (shown above), who is a new Republican congressman representing California’s 13th District. He’s also a farmer from the northern part of the state who gained national attention after the United States Army Corps of Engineers sued him for plowing his wheat field. They claimed that he illegally filled wetlands on his wheat field simply by plowing it.

In 2017, Duarte agreed to pay $1.1 million for violating the Clean Water Act and the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule, or WOTUS for short.

Now, Duarte is a new member of Congress and he wants make sure something like that doesn’t happen to other farmers across the U.S.

“We need to fight to make sure producers can produce and that food producers can deliver abundant, affordable food for American consumers, and for the world,” says Duarte.

Rep. John Duarte (R-CA).

He also sits on several House committees including Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Transportation and Infrastructure — the latter with jurisdiction over the Army Corps.

But, the congressman says he hopes the Supreme Court in the pending Sackett vs. EPA case, puts the fight over WOTUS and the Clean Water Act to rest.

“We all hope, in agriculture, that the Supreme Court supports and reasserts what Congress clearly said, that the Clean Water Act has jurisdiction over navigable waters of the United States. It doesn’t say, adjacent waters, it doesn’t say waters separated by a roadway, or waters that have some future-defined significant nexus to waters of the United States,” according to Duarte.

Although several ag organizations, including the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, have slammed the EPA’s revisions last month to their WOTUS rule, Duarte says it’s ultimately in the hands of the Supreme Court.

“Cause once it comes down, I think the agencies are going to have very clear direction over what they do and don’t have authority over, under the Clean Water Act.”

And if those agencies still don’t listen, Duarte says he and others on Capitol Hill will exert their oversight authority to make sure the EPA and the Army Corps finally clear up their act on WOTUS.

Click BELOW to hear C.J. Miller’s news report and audio from Rep. John Duarte (R-CA), as he discusses his $1.1 million fine from the federal government for plowing his wheat field – and his fight in Congress to prevent the same thing from happening to other farmers.



Source: NAFB News Service.

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