County Farm Bureau takes 'strong stance' against high-speed rail

02/27/2012 4:10 PM

02/27/2012 4:11 PM

The Merced County Farm Bureau (MCFB) said it decided to take a strong stance against the California High Speed Rail Authority by revoking its previous support of route options, instead deciding to outright oppose the rapidly declining High Speed Rail (HSR) project.

In 2008, the voters in California approved a HSR project that was anticipated to cost $33 billion, for the San Francisco-to-Los Angles HSR project, the farm bureau said in a news release. The language of the bond also stated the routes “shall follow existing transportation or utility corridors,” which made the citizens of the state believe this was a realistic and feasible infrastructure project for California, according to the news release. ] However, since 2008, the citizens of California have realized that the campaign propaganda was no more than a fantasy proposal, the release continued. Questions have been brought forth by academia, peer review groups, Congressional members, and state and local officials.

The farm bureau said farmers and ranchers have been hit hardest by the project as the Central Valley is “ground zero” for Phase I. Although organizations such as the farm bureau and other commodity groups had excessive dialogue, given tours, presented official commentary and even presented other route options to the authority Board, staff and consultants, “our concerns fell on deaf ears,” the news release said. From Merced County to Kern County, agriculturalists rallied around the Draft Environmental Impact Documents (DEIR) to pore over the large document which totaled more than 20,000 pages per segment. The response ended up being one of California’s largest commented environmental documents to date, the news release said.

MCFB President Jeff Marchini said in the release: “MCFB has been involved in the project’s public process since 2009 and we’ve been asking plenty of questions about the impacts to our region’s operations. Staff continued to state that answers to all of our questions would be included in the environmental report. Last summer we were disappointed to find none of this pertinent information was included.”

The Merced County Farm Bureau is the largest agricultural organization in the county, representing more than 1,500 farmers and ranchers in the county.

--Sun-Star staff

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