It’s been a long year for a controversial mega-dairy in eastern Oregon. Lost Valley Farm has been saddled with violations and settled a lawsuit with the state. Now, a coalition of environmental and rural advocacy groups are asking Oregon regulators to officially shut the dairy down.
Lost Valley Farm, based in Boardman, is Oregon's second largest dairy. It's faced opposition from the beginning. Environmental groups worried about the risk of liquid manure and wastewater pollution that leaking out of storage areas.
Turns out they were right to worry; wastewater and liquid manure both flowed from Lost Valley Farm, according to regulators.
Since the dairy began operating last year, it has been cited for violation after violation of its water quality and concentrated animal feeding operation permits.
“This is a serious environmental and public health problem. It’s an industrial-scale pollution problem,” said Lauren Goldberg, staff attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper.
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The dairy operates in an area already plagued by high nitrate levels — something state and local groups have tried to get a handle on for decades. Nitrate pollution found in drinking water can be harmful to infants and people with compromised immune systems. Nitrates can be made worse by excessive manure runoff.
The state sued the dairy in February to temporarily force it to stop producing wastewater — which would basically put operations at the dairy on hold. They reached a stringent settlement.
But, the opposition groups say, the dairy is still polluting.
“Enough is enough. Let’s shut down this massive mistake,” said Sarah Hanneken, with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The advocacy groups sent a letter Wednesday to Oregon officials, asking them to shut down Lost Valley Farm.
“Lost Valley has demonstrated repeatedly that it cannot meet the minimum requirements of Oregon law and should no longer have the privilege of doing business in Oregon,” the groups wrote in the letter.
The dairy has also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which halted the auctioning off of its cows.
Attempts to reach the dairy's attorney Wednesday for comment were unsuccessful.
After the Oregon Department of Agriculture settled with Lost Valley Farm in February, an agency spokesman said in an emailed statement that the judgement, along with the dairy’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permit, would “demand compliance.”
“ODA will monitor Lost Valley Farm weekly by conducting inspections at the facility,” the statement said. “ODA is also accessing compliance of the stipulated judgment. … If Lost Valley Farm violates any of the terms of the stipulated judgement the ODA will go to court to seek enforcement through a contempt action.”