Oregon Regulators Request Dairy be “Cleaned Up” Before $66.9M Sale

Before the second largest dairy in the state of Oregon can be sold, the facility must first undergo some deep cleaning.

With a price tag set at $66.9 million, Lost Valley Farm in Boardman, Ore., was originally scheduled to be auctioned off Jan. 31. However, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) objected to the sale because of the dairy’s roughly 47 million gallons of manure posing an environmental risk that needed to be remediated, according to a Capital Press article.

Due to this objection, the farm is now set to be put up for auction in February. Randy Sugarman, the bankruptcy trustee appointed to run Lost Valley, has agreed to clean up the facility before auctioning off the operation as a means to pay off the creditors of the previous farm owner, Greg te Velde.

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.

Te Velde, who received numerous notices from the ODA in regard to improper waste management practices, was forced to hand over his operation to Sugarman after leaving $187,320 from 224 violations unpaid.

In accordance to the deal made with the ODA, the agency will also be able to file a claim in bankruptcy court to recoup cleanup costs if the trustee or new owner does not live up to the cleanup agreement and $500,000 from the dairy sale will be set aside for such costs, according to Capital Press.

Additionally, after selling off the remaining animals, the dairy’s Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit will need to be updated in order for the new owner to operate, unless the dairy is decommissioned by the end of October.

“The cleanup permit doesn’t allow any animals to be there, so there couldn’t be any livestock on the site,” said Wym Matthews, manager of ODA’s CAFO program, in an interview with the Capital Press. “A new owner will need to start from scratch and apply for a new permit from day one.”

Due to the controversy revolving around Lost Valley Farm, two bills have been proposed to the state legislature that could make Oregon dairy regulations the toughest in the nation, reports the Oregon State Journal.

The bills would apply to large dairies, those with more than 2,500 cows or herds with more than 1,000 animal units that don’t have access to seasonal pasture. Both bills would declare these types of dairies as industrial operations, not farming or agricultural, and thus require more oversight.

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