We cannot allow Oregon to become the next hotbed for factory farm production. We need a “time out” on any new or expanded mega-dairies until Oregon acts to protect its communities and special places.
Weak rules have allowed industrial mega-dairies to push family farmers off the land, pollute Oregon’s air and water, drain Oregon’s water resources and threaten animal welfare.
Several Oregon mega-dairies, including one of the largest in the country, are located in Eastern Oregon near Boardman. The high-desert area sits right on the Columbia river upstream of the beloved Columbia River gorge. Groundwater in the area was already contaminated with pollution from mega-dairies, and groundwater supplies were already designated as being in “critical” condition; despite this Oregon moved ahead with permitting Lost Valley Farm.
In the year-and-a-half that Lost Valley Farm operated, it racked up hundreds of environmental violations. The manure lagoons would overflow when it rained, allowing cow manure to overflow and contaminate soil and groundwater. They stacked dead dairy cows in a storage container that overflowed and leaked, further contaminating soil and threatening groundwater.
The violations were so flagrant, state officials warned that the operation’s abuses could spread E. Coli and salmonella to the surrounding area. The state eventually revoked the permit for Lost Valley Farm.
But it’s not just about Lost Valley.
The foul and inhumane practices at Lost Valley Farm are part of a larger problem. Lost Valley is not a single bad actor but an example of the inherent dangers of factory farms that are capable of causing catastrophic harms.
Now, the Oregon Department of Agriculture is considering allowing a new mega-dairy, Easterday Farms, to operate on the former Lost Valley Farm site. The Easterday mega-dairy would house nearly 30,000 cows in a community already suffering from groundwater pollution and decline, and already subject to air pollution and other impacts from the Threemile Canyon mega-dairy permitted to house up to 70,000 cows. Easterday Farms would continue the pattern of mega-dairy harm to Oregon’s rural communities, environment, animals, and small farmers.
State officials have clearly learned nothing from the Lost Valley Farm disaster. We know industrial mega-dairies are unsafe. Mega-dairies cause mega-harms, and Oregon doesn’t need any more of them.