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Ag official, farmer address members of Congress regarding bullet trains in California

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Agriculture interests in California were represented at a meeting to discuss high-speed rail.
Agriculture interests in California were represented at a meeting to discuss high-speed rail.

One agricultural official and one farmer were among the opponents of high-speed rail to address members of Congress who were in Central California to listen to discussions about the innovative mode of transportation being planned for the Golden State.

Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, and Kole Upton, a farmer in Madera County, joined the Congressional representatives at the University of California at Merced, according to the Fresno Bee. The meeting included the attendance of U.S. representative John Mica, a Florida Republican and chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Both Cunha and Upton issued sharply criticism of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is overseeing plans to establish the service in the state. They said the authority does not effectively communicate with ranchers, farmers and other agricultural representatives.

Their concerns were germane to the land in general and, specifically, that rural land would lose value, roads and canals would be damaged, and 40,000 acres of farm land would be ruined.

Outside the building where the meeting was held, Hanford-area farmer Bob Lohse was demonstrating because he's concerned that the rail tracks will bisect his farm. He also expressed worries about the integrity of his agricultural livelihood.

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