Farmer fined $2.8m for farming on own land

California farmer: The government is out to get me

Modesto farmer John Duarte says the government fined him $2.8 million for farming on his own land.

A California farmer is facing a $2.8M fine by state and federal regulators for planting wheat on his own land.

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John Duarte, owner of Duarte Nursery, said the government is retaliating against him for filing a due process claim against them.

“Because we work for the Pacific Legal Foundation here in California and filed a due process, a fifth amendment civil right suit against the government for sending me cease and desist notice without any form of hearing, without getting the facts right to begin with, they retaliated with a $2.8 million law suit against me,” he told the FOX Business Network's Stuart Varney.

In 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a cease-and-desist notice after an engineer who assessed Duarte's land determined it was being tilled too deeply.

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Duarte said he is being prosecuted under the Clean Water Act which adopted a rule allowing farmers to plow their own land so long as plowing does not turn a wetland into dryland.

“What they are contending at this point is that my four to seven inch plowing, the same type of plowing that we growers use all over America every day, either required a permit that has never been issued for a wheat grower before or that I should have conducted practices such as farming around the vernal pools,” Duarte said.

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According to the Northern California farmer, the Federal attorney told Duarte’s tractor operator why the government filed a retaliatory Federal destruction of wetland lawsuit against Duarte.

“Well, they are suing us so we are suing them back,” Duarte claimed the Federal prosecutor said.

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