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18 March 2018 - Finally, a courtroom victory for farmers

Farmers won a rare victory in the courtroom this past week when a Federal Judge in Washington, D.C. ruled that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers bears responsibility for causing recurrent flooding, damaging farms and property in four Midwest states along the Missouri River: Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. The ruling also states the government must compensate farmers, landowners and business owners for the flood damage, which has been estimated to exceed $300--million.

This mass action lawsuit was originally filed in March of 2014 and alleged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ actions have violated the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment that bars the Government from taking private property without just compensation. Judge Nancy Firestone with the United States Court of Federal Claims found in favor of the plaintiffs in five of the six years that the flooding was claimed, dating back to 2007, disallowing the flood claims in 2011.

Judge Firestone stated in her Trial Opinion that the evidence established that the Corps’ changes to the river “had the effect of raising the Missouri River’s water surface elevations in periods of high flows“. She found that since 2007, the flooding has been among the worst in the history of the river and the Corps’ changes in the management of the river caused or contributed to the flooding. Citing the testimony of plaintiffs’ experts, the Court acknowledged that “recurrent flooding in the Missouri River Basin….will continue into the future,” and that increased blocked drainage of farm lands due to higher river levels is a problem.

Benjamin Brown, an attorney for the plaintiffs said “For nearly a decade, individuals have suffered not only serious flood damage, but more critically, threats to their fundamental livelihoods. This decision says all Americans should share the costs of protecting threatened and endangered species and the entirety of this burden should not be foisted on those who happen to live and work on the river.”

I commend Judge Firestone for understanding the situation and making a sensible ruling for farmers, and other property and business owners.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.