By A.J. Hazarabedian

California farmers are once again voicing their concerns about the potential high-speed rail project which has been a hot topic recently.  A route has yet to be determined, but one of the alternatives could displace 1,900 acres of property – of which 1,460 acres is farmland.

This morning’s Sacramento Bee featured an article, “Path of high-speed rail worries California farmers,” where both the farmers and the rail authority gave their arguments for and against the project.  Some of the farmers feel they are not being heard and that the rail authority is not giving them enough answers.  The authority’s deputy executive director, Jeff Barker, recognizes their fears however, and states “the authority cannot provide more specific answers until environmental reviews are completed on the route options.”  This February a draft environmental document is expected, which should discuss alternatives and provide some explanations of the plans.

The article explains the fears of the farmers.  It indicates that not only will their crops be disrupted, but they will have more challenges getting around, as the speed of the proposed train will prevent at-grade crossings.  This would mean the farmers would have to rely on new undercrossings or overpasses which may add inconvenience.

As an eminent domain attorney, I am interested in the issue of just compensation.  With farmers, taking land often means taking crops.  Valuing these crops and the loss of future business could be tricky.  The article briefly mentions the issue of compensation, addressing farmers concerns about whether they’ll be compensated only for the value of the land acquired, or “for future lost income from permanent crops like grapes, nuts or fruit crops.”  This particular issue is a prime example of why hiring an experienced eminent domain attorney is so important.  Eminent domain is an unusual area of the law and when dealing with your property and/or business, you want someone representing you who has extensive knowledge of the specific rules of eminent domain law.