Madera County Farm Bureau and partners sue the High Speed Rail Authority
The Madera County Farm Bureau Board, jointly with the Merced County Farm Bureau, the County of Madera, the Chowchilla Water District, Preserve Our Heritage, and the Fagundes Brothers Dairy, have all filed suit against the California High Speed Rail Authority (Authority) on the grounds that its environmental review is woefully deficient and harmful to those parties named as petitioners on the suit. The petitioners stipulate that the Project would ultimately result in extensive significant and unavoidable impacts to agriculture, land use, water supply and availability, and cultural resources.
The Farm Bureau, jointly united with the group which consists of a group of private land owners affected by the Project, along with the County of Madera and the public agency -Chowchilla Water District, note in their petition that the recently approved Merced to Fresno Section of the high speed rail Project significantly deviates from existing transportation corridors, resulting in the destruction of or interference to thousands of acres of farmland, wildlife habitat, homes, and multiple commercial and industrial facilities.
The Farm Bureaus has felt strongly that this Project is to the detriment of the enormous agricultural economies in their respective counties and that the Authority, on numerous occasions, has stepped over the line in not being responsive to the concerns of the agricultural community. As the leading agricultural advocacy organizations county-wide representing thousands of members -it was incumbent upon the Farm Bureau to act in a manner necessary to garner responsiveness by the State.
"We've been saber-rattling for months trying to get the Authority to heed our concerns seriously," said Madera County Farm Bureau President, Tom Rogers. "Now the time has come to show the Authority that we are deadly serious about protecting our way of life as well as our bedrock agricultural economy."
The Farm Bureau, along with the other group of petitioners, feels that the agricultural mitigation provided for by the Authority is not adequate or truthful in light of the severity and significance of the impacts. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) provides very clear instructions that significant and unavoidable impacts to resources must be mitigated in order to follow the law.
This action comes after the Authority approved the environmental report that selected a route through Madera and Merced Counties that impacts approximately 1,500 acres of prime and important farmland, along with an estimated 150 agri-businesses. The environmental document failed to analyze a variety of substantial resources in the area, including bee pollination impacts and water supply impacts.
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