Etcher Family Farms, LLC, Owner, and Employee Plead Guilty to Clean Water Act Violations
DAVENPORT, Iowa – Etcher Family Farms, LLC; owner Scott Allen Etcher; and Etcher Farms’ employee Benjamin Allen McFarland, pleaded guilty on October 25, 2018, to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, announced United States Attorney Marc Krickbaum.
All Defendants pleaded guilty to a United States Attorney Information. Etcher Family Farms, LLC, pleaded guilty to knowing discharge of a pollutant from a point source into a water of the United States without a permit, in violation of Title 33, United States Code §§ 1311(a) and 1319(c)(2)(A). Scott Etcher and McFarland pleaded guilty to negligent discharge of a pollutant from a point source into a water of the United States without a permit, in violation of Title 33, United States Code §§ 1311(a) and 1319(c)(1)(A). This investigation was undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigations as a result of information provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and witnesses who observed the acts. The Information alleged that employees of Etcher Family Farms, LLC, illegally disposed of liquid manure into waters of the United States via a drainage tile system. The investigation revealed that employees of Etcher Farms discharged liquid manure via a hose attached to a lawn tractor next to and upon tile intakes, which discharged directly into an adjacent creek (waters of the United States). IDNR documented the illegal acts and collected samples to verify such impact to jurisdictional waters.
“When illegally discharged into streams and rivers, animal wastes can result in environmental and human health risks, such as water quality impairment, fish kills, algal blooms, and contamination of drinking water sources,” said EPA Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez. “The guilty pleas demonstrate that EPA and our law enforcement partners will hold accountable those who violate laws designed to protect the environment and our communities.”
“The plea agreement requires Etcher Family Farms, LLC, to institute a robust program to ensure they comply with federal law,” stated U.S. Attorney Krickbaum. “Our office will continue to aggressively enforce these important environmental laws to protect our waterways from pollution.”
Etcher Family Farms, LLC, Scott Etcher, and McFarland are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Court Judge Stephanie M. Rose on February 26, 2019, at 1 p.m.
This matter was investigated by the EPA-Criminal Investigation and the IDNR. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.