I’m John Duarte. I’m a farmer in California, and I'm in court fighting the federal government over whether farming is a violation of federal law. They want to fine me $8 million just for plowing my own land.
There are some spots in my field where water stands after a rain. I often don’t plow or plant in those areas, even though they are dry most of the time. But in 2012, I did plow one of these spots about seven inches deep to plant wheat. Regulators hit me with an order to stop, and when I challenged their authority in court, they countersued. Now they are demanding penalties that would wipe me out. They've even threatened to take my home.
So far, one federal court has sided with the government. But I'm determined to continue this fight, because no farmer in America should have to tolerate such an abuse of power.
Today, I have a mortgage on 450 acres of California farm land that a court has ordered me not to farm. My legal bills are $1.5 million and growing. And what the courts eventually decide about my own farm will have far-reaching effects on farmers across the nation.
The government wants the courts to interpret the law the way the government wishes it was written. Congress wrote the federal Clean Water Act to not regulate normal farming. But now regulators want to use that law against me and other farmers even when our farming does nothing to harm the environment. That flies in the face of everything I believe, as a farmer and as an American.
This isn’t right. Federal regulators want to control ordinary farming. They're starting with me and a few others. We need to stop them before they put more farm families in economic peril--before they make farming a federal offense.
I’m drawing the line right here, in my field.
If you care about farming, if you care about justice and you agree enough is enough, I hope you will stand with me. Please give generously to the Duarte Defense fund.