Tammy Wakeley and her husband have been dairy farming in Winnebago County for 20 years, but she says their business will come to an end if the newly proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad line cuts through the edge of their property.
“We won’t be able to continue dairy farming here,” she said.
The Great Lakes Basin Transportation Corporation’s new route avoids Boone County, but still cuts through farmland in Winnebago and Ogle counties. Wakeley says she’s worried having the tracks so close to her barn could prevent the cows from eating and drinking.
“They can feel it. They’re very sensitive.”
Wakeley isn’t the only farmer with concerns. Brent Pollard lives just across the street from her, and says the new line would cut through 400 acres of the property his family has been farming for 6 generations.
He says it would create oddly shaped pieces of land that would become expensive to farm because of special equipment needed.
“You know, all of our farm equipment is meant to farm squares, rectangles and squares,” he explained. “And so we’re going to get a bunch of curves or odd-sized triangles to farm.”
Ogle County farmers face the same concerns. Lauren Hintzsche’s farm is just off I-39 in Rochelle. It was the first farm hit by the tornado back in April of 2015, which is why Hintzsche says she was even more upset when she heard railroad tracks may be cutting through that same land.
“Believe me, when this came up after just being rebuilt for about a year, it was just another kick in the pants,” she said.
Hintzsche says she understands the need for railroads, but doesn’t believe this one is necessary.
“Is it gonna bring jobs? No. Maybe a few here and there, but it’s not gonna bring a lot of jobs to this area. Economically, is it gonna help us out? I don’t think so,” she said.