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ND farmer accused of wetlands violation sues USDA

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota farmer accused of illegally draining wetlands is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture for back benefits.

Leonard Peterson, of LaMoure, says a ruling that he violated wetland conservation regulations was not supported by the evidence. He's seeking nearly $136,000 in USDA benefits.

Peterson says he was told by a federal conservation official he was "doing nothing wrong'' by grading land between wetlands in August 2009. Peterson says he wanted to make it easier to move farm machinery in the area.

The USDA denies that Peterson was given the OK for the project and says the ruling was based on substantial evidence. The government is asking that the suit be thrown out of federal court.

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