Lost Valley Farm cited for multiple environmental violations
Lost Valley Farm in Eastern Oregon is the state’s second-largest dairy. Since its opening in April 2017, it has been cited multiple times for various environmental regulations violations. Lost Valley repeatedly violated its wastewater permit by neglecting to properly drain manure storage lagoons and allowing them to overflow. This poses grave health risks, as the manure could contaminate local drinking water wells. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is concerned that the wet season in November poses additional flood risks for manure lagoons. A major environmental disaster could ensue if Lost Valley neglects to get its wastewater treatment systems functioning before then.
Lost Valley Farm owner neglects to comply with regulations
Lost Valley Farm has previously neglected to pay a $10,850 fine for violations. Additionally, the dairy’s water shortage has caused it to have to “truck in water to flush stalls and wash equipment at a cost of $11,531 per week.” The state has previously attempted to shut down the dairy twice before. The state has sued the owner and also revoked the dairy’s wastewater permit. A judge in the lawsuit, however, has ordered the state to allow the dairy a last opportunity to fix its wastewater issues. But in April 2018, just one year after opening, the owner filed for bankruptcy, complicating the lawsuit and permit issues. The owner could abandon the dairy, which would result in the state incurring the extensive costs of cleanup.
New legislation may result to regulate megadairies
The Lost Valley Farm dairy “debacle” has resulted in the state considering new legislation to prevent these issues in the future. New ideas included “charging dairies for excessive regulatory or legal costs.” This was due to Lost Valley’s 62 inspections that cost the state about $800 apiece. Another potential requirement would be that dairies “complete construction before bringing in cows” in attempts to avoid such wastewater issues in the future. Additionally, Oregon is planning to look into how other states regulate dairy farms “to identify best practices.”