Environmental groups are doubling down on demands for a 'megadairy' moratorium in Oregon as a new owner takes over a troubled operation in northeastern Oregon.
The Statesman Journal reports that Easterday Farms, based in Pasco, Wash., just bought the shuttered Lost Valley Farm in Boardman, Oregon, which was permitted to have 30,000 cows. In less than two years in operation, Lost Valley racked up nearly $200,000 in fines for more than 200 environmental violations.
Easterday has hired an Oregon lobbyist, and registered an Oregon corporation called Easterday Farms Dairy, LLC.
Advocacy groups want to make sure Easterday doesn’t reopen Lost Valley, and other operators don’t move into the state, until stricter rules for megadairies are in place.
“Weak rules have allowed industrial megadairies to push family farmers off the land, pollute Oregon’s air and water, and threaten animal welfare,” Amy van Saun, of the Center for Food Safety, said before a legislative committee Thursday.
A coalition of advocacy groups is lining up behind Senate Bill 103, which would apply to large dairies, defined as those with at least 2,500 cows, or those with at least 700 mature cows that do not get seasonal access to pasture.
The bill would place a moratorium on permits for new or expanded large dairies.
It also would define large dairies as industrial, rather than agricultural or farming operations, meaning they wouldn’t qualify for regulatory exemptions available to farmers.
The bills’ opponents say the state’s dairy farmers should not be punished for bad management at one dairy.
“Any bill that threatens right to farm is a threat to the heritage of our state,” said Shannon Lourenzo, who is on the board of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which bought milk from Lost Valley Farm.
Opponents include all three commissioners in Marion County, which has the state’s second-highest number of dairy farms.