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An interesting exercise in church-state relations: Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny .

Their cows generate heaps of manure that easily washes into streams and flows onward into the Chesapeake Bay. And the Environmental Protection Agency . . . is determined to crack down. The farmers have a choice: change the way they farm or face stiff penalties.

The “plain-sect” families own half the farmland in Lancaster County, which produces 20 million more pounds of manure a year than any other county, a good bit of which runs into the bay. A lot of the farmers are not handling the waste correctly.

There doesn’t seem any way to avoid a conflict between the agency and the farmers, but the agency is treating them, according to the story, with restraint and respect. It’s an iron fist in a velvet glove restraint, of course.

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