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Farmers discuss high-speed rail's impact on their lives

Monday, January 24, 2011

An almond farmer was one person who confronted a California politician at an open forum about the impact of high-speed rail.
An almond farmer was one person who confronted a California politician at an open forum about the impact of high-speed rail.

Farmers expressed concerns last week to an elected official in California as the dawning of a high-speed rail system gains momentum, according to published reports.

"We see proposed lines cutting ranches in half, eliminating residences, going through the town of Le Grand," Laverne Caldeira, a realtor and an almond farmer, said during a civic meeting in Merced where a democratic state official was conducting an open session. "This is causing agriculture from Merced to Bakersfield an extreme concern."

Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani told attendees at the Merced Civic Center that the rail system linking Los Angeles and San Francisco via the San Joaquin Valley will represent opportunity for local business people, the Merced Sun-Star reports. But she also expressed an understanding of what the rail line might do to farmers.

"As the rest of the economy crashed, the agricultural industry is one of the industries that has allowed us to keep our heads fairly above water," she said. "There is a way to do both, plan for the high-speed rail and agriculture community."

Another meeting is planned for later next month, she said. That one is specifically for the agriculture community.

"High-speed rail is planning for 100 years ahead," she said. "It's painful now because we don't know as much."

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