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Farmers chime in regarding high-speed rail plans

Friday, January 14, 2011

Farmers in California are concerned the state's proposed high-speed rail line will be damaging to their life and times.
Farmers in California are concerned the state's proposed high-speed rail line will be damaging to their life and times.

The carelessness of the California High-Speed Rail Authority is unlike any other bureaucracy experienced by the leader of an advocacy group for farmers, that leader told the Fresno Bee.

"I have been able to deal with immigration officials, the United Farm Workers union and Congress," said Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. "But these guys don't want to talk with us. Their attitude is, 'We are going to put this through and we don't really care about these farmers.'"

Some farmers are concerned that the proposed 800-mile rail network will cause the value of their farmland to plunge because it will be carved into separate pieces. Some are worried about work being interrupted.

But others have reconciled themselves to accepting the inevitable.

"I'm a family farmer, and I want to stay a family farmer," tomato farmer Brad Johns told the publication. "But I am acquiescing to reality. This is coming … and I just have to learn to live with a new neighbor."

A top official with the California High-Speed Rail Authority said the state agency holds high consideration for agriculture's importance as rail plans manifest.

"Agriculture is absolutely being listened to, and it will factor into the decisions we're making," Jeff Barker, deputy executive director of CHSRA, told the publication. "You can't build a piece of infrastructure like this without affecting agricultural land, and we want to work with agriculture to mitigate those effects."

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