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HEL Ruling Rules Compliance Challenged


It all seems to have started when a prominent Sioux Citian bought a large piece of land, and made it known he would develop it to farm. Much of the Loess Hills tract had never been broken. Parts, farmed then returned to pasture, were in disrepair.

The purchase was visible, and so was the purchaser. The farmer, a young man who simply cash rented the parcel, had no idea he was entering into a series of events that would change his life.

During the first week of October 2004, those events brought the farmer face-to-face with his destiny as a farmer. Yet the farmer is admitted by Natural Resources Conservation Service ("NRCS") to be one of the best no-till farmers in the State of Iowa.

Domina Law Group pc llo 's client, the northwest Iowa farmer, operates on 11,000 acres of land. A small fraction - disclosed by the evidence at no more than two and one-half percent (2 ½ %) of this total, and likely less than one percent (1%), was called into question by NRCS action. The farmer was charged with failing to comply with a conservation plan.

Trial before a Title VII tribunal, was conducted in Council Bluffs, Iowa during the week of August 7. David Domina and Michael Stumo, appearing for the farmer, presented "extensive evidence, including more than 1,000 pages of exhibits, along with live testimony and affidavits from nearly one dozen witnesses.

"The record makes it clear we represent one of Iowa's most committed "no-till" farmers. He is a big business man, a successful operator, and his techniques have admittedly been emulated by others", Domina said. As a result, thousands of acres not farmed previously are now producing crops raised with soil-preserving no-till methods. Domina continued, "Testimony from neighbors, suppliers, a farm manager, and government officials, all proved, without contradiction, that our client is a genuine conservationist, with a primary interest in the soil.

The USDA's case was a paper presentation. It consisted of committee records, including inconsistencies and instances of inadequate communication.

Dr. John Laflen, formerly with the USDA as a research scientist, and a leader at developing soils, soils chemistry, and soils protection techniques, testified as an expert witness for the farmer. Michael Stumo, who identified and presented Dr. Laflen's testimony, called him a leading expert in the field.

October 7, 2005
David A. Domina

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