Sioux Falls, South Dakota; May 5, 2021: A third-generation farmer filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is unlawfully preventing him from farming one of his fields.  

In 2011, a division of the Department of Agriculture ruled that small seasonal mud puddle on Arlen Foster’s farm is protected by federal law as a wetland. Even though the federal government has no authority to regulate such puddles, the department is forcing Foster to choose between productively using his field or participating in federal programs for farmers, like crop insurance. 

“The government lacks the authority to insist that he leave the mud puddle ‘muddy, so it’s threatening to take away Foster’s ability to participate in federal programs to achieve the outcome that it wants,” said Tony Francois, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. But Foster has a right to use his property, and coercing him in this way violates his right.” 

Although Foster requested that the government revisit its designation of his mud puddle as a protected wetland, in light of new evidence to the contrary, it refused. Now Foster is suing over the unconstitutional conditions the agency is attaching to his participation in crop insurance and other federal programs. 

Foster is represented free of charge by Pacific Legal Foundation. The case, Foster v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. 


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Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 18 wins of 20 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

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