Release: Vermont Delegation Comments on Morse Line Proposal

WASHINGTON, April 23 - The following is a joint statement from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch:

“The ongoing dispute between hardworking family farmers and federal officials over the proposed Morses Line Port of Entry is emblematic of a process gone wrong.  As part of a larger effort to update and improve border security, the federal government originally proposed spending $15 million on a new 10-acre border crossing station in an area with far lower traffic levels than most crossings.  After months of discussions, that plan has been reduced to $5 million with a smaller footprint. 

“Under the revised plan, the new border crossing would be built on five acres of working farmland owned by Clement and Elizabeth Rainville.  Just this week the Rainville family received notice from the Army Corps of Engineers that it will begin the condemnation process of the land in 60 days if the family does not agree to sell it.  At a time when Franklin County farmers face the dual challenges of a down economy and crisis in the dairy industry, we find it wrong that the federal government would add yet another layer of hardship to a family farm.

“While we appreciate that officials cut the size of the proposed project significantly after we wrote DHS Secretary Napolitano last fall, we strongly disagree with the current plan.”

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ATTACHED: Response letter from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (March 10, 2010) to Vermont Delegation letter (February 24, 2010).