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Florida Farmers File Challenge Over Cropland Conversion Rights

By March 31, 2010No Comments

This past week, one of Florida’s largest agribusinesses and a staunch national defender of private property rights, the United States Sugar Corporation, partnered with the American Farm Bureau Federation in filing a joint Administrative Procedure Act (APA) complaint in federal court challenging a recent change in the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ rules regarding prior converted croplands.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., takes the Corps to task for non-compliance with its own rules regarding prior converted croplands. The suit argues that recent action by the Corps goes against the 1993 rule that excluded prior converted croplands from regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The Corps’ actions would subject croplands to federal control if farmers take their prior converted cropland out of crop production and change its use. There are currently more than 53 million acres of prior converted cropland in the U.S.

“These lands are out of the realm of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, meaning the Corps can’t regulate them as waters of the U.S.,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “This is important because the value of prior converted croplands is significantly higher than land encumbered by costly federal wetlands regulations.”

Until recently, farmers could rely on the regulations established in 1993 and could use prior converted cropland for both agricultural and non-agricultural uses.  Many farmers use the equity in prior converted cropland as collateral for the capital needed for farm and other loans.  For many farmers, the development value of the land is an important asset.

“The Corps is now trying to arbitrarily change the rules of the game, which would have significant impacts on producers’ land values and property rights,” Stallman said.

“This is a case of government run amok.  The Corps cannot simply change policy on a whim and make arbitrary and capricious rulings that impact more than 53 million acres of America’s farm land.  In this instance, they have changed national Corps wetlands policy with nothing more than a memo,” said Judy Sanchez, director of corporate communications for U.S. Sugar.  “This ruling destroys farmers’ property rights in Florida and in every state in the nation,” said Sanchez.

The position of the Obama administration on the protection of private property rights is now quite clear.  We are continuing to witness sweeping actions by federal agencies – such as this change in how prior converted cropland are regulated. Almost every week, a new administrative rule or policy change, or new interpretation thereof, is being announced without any seeming consideration of the impact on property rights and the millions of citizens who make their living from the land. Unless these actions and policies are challenged in court and in mass by citizens aware of the dramatic changes underway which will impact future land use rights across America, we will continue to see increasing controls advanced by the federal government.

The inherent danger of incremental change, is that citizens do not see or suspect that total control over all private land is the desired outcome, until it is too late for citizens to fight back. There is no doubt where current trend lines are leading.

Register today for one of CPR’s large scale property rights events – our upcoming Spring 2010 Issues Forum, “Championing Growth” to be held Friday, April 16th from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at the Country Club of Orlando. Our keynote speaker will be Chris Chocola, national president of The Club for Growth who will provide a national political overview of Club for Growth’s work championing economic freedom. The Club for Growth is impacting national public policy and is perhaps best known for its electoral success in supporting congressional and senatorial candidates who reflect pro-growth values through the Club’s political action committee. A CPR Candidates Forum will also be held immediately following the keynote address where property owners can meet and mingle with candidates for local, state and federal office. Cost = $40 pp or $300 for a table of 8. Corporate sponsorship opportunities also available. To review a full invitation or the event registration form which can be mailed in. 

REGISTER TODAY for this special event via email to or by calling 407-481-2289 to reserve your individual ticket or a corporate table. CPR members are encouraged to RSVP early and to pass along the invitation to this event to friends and business associates!


In January, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed numeric nutrient criteria for flowing waters in the State of Florida. Due to the significant turnout at the public hearings held in February, EPA will be holding another set of public hearings on April 13, 14, and 15.  This issue impacts every property owner in Florida whose property receives or discharges stormwater. In other words, all property in Florida.  It is imperative EPA understands the negative impacts the proposed water quality standards could have on your property or business. To speak at the public workshop you should pre-register online at:  Pre-registration is also available by phone at 202-431-2282.  The deadline for registration is April 8, 2010. The dates and locations of the public hearings are as follows:

  • Fort MyersApril 13, 2010, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., Harborside Event Center, 1375 Monroe Street
  • TampaApril 14, 2010 , 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., Hilton Tampa Airport, 2225 North Lois Avenue
  • Jacksonville April 15, 2010, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 – 10:00 p.m., Clarion Hotel Airport Conference Center, 2101 Dixie Clipper Drive


If you are not an official member of the Coalition for Property Rights, join online today at and support our work to promote the inherent value of private property rights and to defend these rights against further erosion. Help protect your rights and ensure that property ownership opportunities exist in America for your children and grandchildren. That is what is at stake in today’s debates. For more information about individual or corporate memberships, please contact our office at 407-481-2289.

Reader responses always welcomed!

Carol Saviak
Executive Director
Coalition for Property Rights
2878 S. Osceola Avenue
Orlando, FL 32806
407-481-0834 fax

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