Oregon’s farm regulators have slapped a $10,640 penalty on a major new dairy near Boardman for allegedly discharging waste in violation of permit conditions.
The company, Lost Valley Farm, is also facing two lawsuits filed by contractors who claim they haven’t been paid for installing equipment and providing construction services.
A “confined animal feeding operation” inspection by the Oregon Department of Agriculture found on Dec. 5, 2017, that wastewater from the dairy had overflowed into a pit that’s not authorized for storage, which wasn’t reported to the agency as required.
The dairy, which eventually plans to milk 30,000 cows, was also faulted for maintaining inadequate lagoon storage capacity to deal with runoff in case of a storm.
Another inspection on Dec. 15, 2017, found that liquid and solid manure had discharged from a tank, flowing into areas unauthorized for waste storage, which against wasn’t reported to ODA.
Civil penalties of $10,640 were recently imposed on the dairy for these violations, but the company may request an administrative hearing on the matter by mid-February.
Aside from these violations, the company was issued three notices of non-compliance with its CAFO permit between late June and late November of last year, which required corrective actions.
Capital Press was unable to reach a representative of Lost Valley Farm as of press time.
The situation is concerning to ODA because the Lost Valley Farm facility is brand new, having just begun operating last April, said Wym Matthews, manager of the agency’s CAFO program.
“It’s like a new car, you don’t expect to have trouble with it,” he said.
In this case, though, the problems don’t stem from equipment malfunctions, but rather from management errors that weren’t remedied quickly enough, Matthews said.
It’s difficult to compare the different circumstances under which dairies receive penalties, he said.
However, fewer than 1 percent of the 880 CAFO inspections conducted by ODA last year resulted in fines, and $10,000 for a first penalty is “a decent amount of money,” Matthews said.
“Hopefully, they will get the message and operate according to the permit. That’s our goal,” he said.
Aside from its inspection troubles, the Lost Valley Farm was also recently sued by Daritech, a dairy equipment manufacturer, in federal court for allegedly failing to pay in a timely manner more than $340,000 for the installation of equipment.
Another lawsuit seeking more than $390,000 from the dairy was filed last November in state court by IRZ Consulting of Hermiston, which claims the company’s owner, Greg te Velde, hasn’t fully paid for labor, equipment, materials and other services related to the construction and improvement of real estate.
A third complaint, also filed in state court, sought to recover $1.4 million for labor, materials and other services performed by Laser Land Leveling, Inc., but was dismissed at the plaintiff’s request last November due to a settlement.