Western View: Use a Plow, Go to Jail?

Taylor Hillman Features, Western View

Dry plowed earth agricultural land
I’m completely flummoxed by the logic of a ruling made by a federal judge last week. He seemed to say that farming is now illegal without permission from the feds.

Plow Polluter

He says a plow is a point source of pollution, and soil that’s been turned and moved a few inches is a pollutant. When that plow is dragged across a dry vernal pool, which might possibly drain into a creek miles away, then that dirt has been turned loose onto the environment, and it is potentially contaminating the water of the USA.

Now, understand this – no environmental damage was done by the act of plowing. No harm has been done to anyone or anything. The soil was not contaminated with any sort of chemicals; no toxic waste was present, no pesticides, no fertilizers, no organic matter – nothing, just good old California dirt. The vernal pool – which is a seasonal water basin, which in some parts of the country might be called a mud puddle – had no endangered species in its dry soil.  The pool was on an acreage that had been heavily farmed for years. There was nothing special about that dry mud puddle, or if you prefer, vernal pool. Don’t tell the EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers, but I have a very similar dry puddle in my back pasture. Any farmer listening to this might have one, too.

The Clean Water Act clearly exempts normal farming practices. Moreover, the implementing regulations state that plowing is never subject to the Act, so long as it does not convert wetlands to dry land. Well, if this decision stands, those statements don’t mean a thing; the court’s decision amounts to a rule that you may not plow in federally regulated wetlands without an Army Corps permit. Now, with this decision, just about anywhere you can pull a plow is federally regulated wetlands.

To call soil a pollutant when it is moved a few inches by a plow is preposterous. To use the Clean Water Act to clamp down on farming is absurd. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to do this.

I have no idea how to back up this outrageous legislation, but somebody needs to stop its implementation or we’ll all be getting our food from China.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.