A farming family is suing the federal government over its demand that they leave what the family argues is a mud puddle in the middle of their farm intact because it considers the ground to be a federally protected wetland.
The legal complaint in the case, Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in South Dakota. The lawsuit was filed by the Sacramento, California-based Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a national public interest law firm.
The puddle is about 0.8 acres in size and roughly eight inches deep.
The family’s rights “are being violated by being subjected to federal micromanagement of how they farm in order to protect a mud puddle,” Tony Francois, a senior PLF attorney, told The Epoch Times. “The suit when it is successful will allow them the freedom to use their property as they see best.”
“The government has no power to regulate how you use mud puddles on your property, but because they provide things like crop insurance assistance” the government has power over them, Francois said.
Arlen and Cindy Foster, third-generation farmers in Miner County, South Dakota, argue that the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause doesn’t give Congress the authority to regulate an isolated farm field depression that neither collects nor discharges water as a wetland. They also contend that the government can’t condition the distribution of benefits—such as federal crop insurance—on recipients waiving their constitutional rights.
Along with their daughter, son-in-law, and six grandchildren, the Fosters raise cattle, corn, soybeans, and hay on land Arlen’s grandfather bought back in 1900 with a $1,000 loan.
The family is also proud of its conservation practices on the farm. These practices include no-till farming and preserving tree belts, according to a PLF summary.
One of the family’s conservation efforts has led to a present-day legal problem.