Oregon ‘Mega-Dairy’ Up for Auction, First Bid Set at $66.9 Million

Oregon’s second largest dairy, Lost Valley Farm, may soon have a new owner to start off the new year. Scheduled to be auctioned off Jan. 31, Randy Sugarman, the appointed trustee of the Boardman, Ore., operation has made the decision to sell the farm, water rights, equipment and property.

According to the East Oregonian, a prospective buyer has already submitted a bid to purchase Lost Valley’s assets for $66.9 million. Previously auctioning off 2,000 animals, the remaining 8,000 cows will not be included in the purchases agreement later this month.

The decision to sell the farm comes after the previous owner, Greg te Velde, originally placed Lost Valley up for sale last year after he faced losing his waste management permit. Te Velde, who received numerous notices from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) for improper waste management practices, was cited with endangering nearby drinking wells and groundwater.

While the farm reached the benchmarks set up by the state for cleanup, Lost Valley is continuing negotiations to reach a settlement with the ODA . Te Velde's actions had previously raised concerns within the community, who see the facility as a 'mega dairy.' 

“Data from regular groundwater monitoring events and analysis by environmental experts has and continues to show that the dairy has not caused harm to public drinking water supplies or the environment,” Liz Fuller, a spokeswoman for Lost Valley, told the East Oregonian.

As a means to repay some of the $160 million in total debt racked up over the past year and a half, te Velde originally agreed to disperse of his cattle in April 2018. However, one day before the cattle sale, te Velde filed for bankruptcy, putting the sale on hold.

Appointed by the State Bankruptcy judge, Fredrick Clement, to take over the operation, Sugarman was given the task of resolving some of the issues originally created by te Velde. After working for several months to make improvements, Sugarman concluded that the facility would need to invest $35 million to $40 million to meet all of its pollution permit requirements.

“Going forward, it will be necessary to find a new owner, one capable of obtaining any future permits and funding critical capital improvements,” Sugarman said.

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