Troubled Oregon Mega-Dairy Up For Auction After Year Of Complaints

Dec 20, 2018

A troubled mega-dairy in the Columbia Basin is now on the auction block. The sale of Lost Valley Farm comes after more than a year’s worth of pollution complaints and scrutiny by regulators.

Lost Valley Farm — just off Interstate 84 near Boardman, Oregon — promised to be one of the state’s largest and most sustainable dairies. It quickly fell short on those promises.

Environmental groups had voiced concerns over the proposed 30,000-cow operation before it began producing milk. Violations piled up, mainly from improperly storing manure and other waste.

After facing a lawsuit from the state, the dairy’s owner eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A trustee determined the best thing to do was to close the farm and sell it to an “experienced” buyer.

One buyer, Canyon Farm LLC, has put in a $66 million offer to kick off the bidding process. The auction is scheduled for Jan. 31.

In the meantime, the estate is working on a cleanup plan with both the Oregon departments of Agriculture and Justice.

“Lost Valley Farm has more than satisfied the requirements of the remedial sanctions order,” Lost Valley spokeswoman Liz Fuller said in an email. “The work has focused on getting the dairy in compliance with its permit and provide ongoing protection for the environment."

So far, workers have drained lagoons so that they don’t overflow when it rains and made “substantial repairs” to the waste management system, according to a prepared statement.

“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,” the statement says.

About 20 percent of the Lost Valley Farm cattle herd has been sold already. The rest will be put up for auction in February to help pay off the dairy’s creditors.

Ivan Maluski, with Friends of Family Farmers, said in an earlier interview that the Oregon Legislature needs to reform the state’s confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, permit system.

“This whole debacle has revealed serious failures in Oregon’s CAFO program, as it relates to these industrial-sized operations,” Maluski said.

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