A California farmer is facing a $2.8 million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his own field.
John Duarte bought 450 acres of land near Modesto in 2012 and is now being sued by the federal government for plowing near areas the government considers to be "waters of the United States."
USA Today reports:
A farmer faces trial in federal court this summer and a $2.8 million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his field and plant wheat in Tehama County.
A lawyer for Duarte Nursery said the case is important because it could set a precedent requiring other farmers to obtain costly, time-consuming permits just to plow.
"The case is the first time that we're aware of that says you need to get a (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit to plow to grow crops," said Anthony Francois, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation. The libertarian-leaning nonprofit fights for private property rights and limited government.
"We're not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations," Francois said.
The case will head to trial in August. The government claims that Duarte violated the Clean Water Act because he did not obtain a permit to work near the wetlands.
Francois, the attorney for Duarte, said farmers plowing their fields are exempt from federal rules.
Duarte plowed to a depth of between 4 and 7 inches.