March 24, 2014 — Farmers in Kings County, California don’t want to be railroaded when it comes to the planning and building of the first high speed rail system in the nation. Just ask Joe Machado, a 3rd generation dairy producer who milks 1,100 Holstein cows on 700 acres near Hanford. He says the California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to put tracks about 100 feet from his facility.
“My above ground water that I get from irrigation will be impacted,” he said. “It’s like cutting one of my legs off and telling me I still have crutches to walk on…that’s their whole attitude toward mitigating impacts.”
Officials say by 2029, the system will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of over 200 miles per hour. The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations.
Machado says because of politics, the project is starting in the Central Valley. He believes the plaintiffs in Kings County are “in the right” because officials are not following the directive of the voters.
“That’s their biggest hurdle right now,” he said. “We have judges that are sympathetic to our cause and Kings County is upset that they haven’t resolved our issues.”
Kings County farmers came together as one and didn’t let the issue die. Machado says they have successfully held the project up, saying that he’s not against high speed rail, but he is against the Authority for not following the guidelines set by voters.
“They thought we didn’t have the political power. We’re not a big city, which they thought was the path of least resistance,” Machado said. “Were they ever wrong, because we have been the thorn in the side of high speed rail, and if wasn’t for Kings County they probably would have a shovel in the ground by now somewhere.”