Update: Controversial Mega-Dairy Taps Threatened Groundwater

In the last issue of the Barnyard, we had breaking news of an unprecedented legal action by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to require the 'Lost Valley Farms' mega-dairy in eastern Oregon to either clean up overflowing manure lagoons or shut down. Lost Valley is a controversial Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) approved for 30,000-cows by ODA less than a year ago, despite strong opposition from FoFF and over 4000 concerned Oregonians due to groundwater contamination and depletion risks, negative impacts on smaller dairy farms, air quality concerns, and other issues. 

The ODA and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had claimed that the Lost Valley CAFO permit was "the most protective of surface and groundwater" of any issued to date. Yet despite such claims, in less than a year, Lost Valley has been a disaster, racking up a string of severe manure and wastewater violations that threaten drinking water in the area. Photographs taken by ODA Food Safety inspectors show cows standing in liquid manure at the facility.

It was also revealed in mid-March that the company was using a loophole to tap a highly threatened aquifer, putting the viability of other farmers in the area at risk by using up to 1 million gallons per day from groundwater so restricted that no new wells have been allowed in the area in over 40 years.

Worse, internal emails and other documents acquired by Friends of Family Farmers' Watchdog Program seemed to show that the state agencies involved in permitting Lost Valley - and even the Governor's office - ignored numerous warning signs in order to get the operation up and running last year.

Despite all this, by the end of March, ODA had settled it's lawsuit against Lost Valley, allowing them to continue operating. Meanwhile, numerous news outlets reported that the facility - which has been supplying milk for Tillamook Cheese - may be forced to close by the multinational agricultural lender Rabobank, which financed the operation and is now requiring the California-based owner of Lost Valley to repay more than $60 million in overdue debt.

The ongoing story of Lost Valley is tragic, but it was preventable. We worked hard to stop Lost Valley from being approved, but once it was, we have been tireless in holding the state agencies, decision-makers, and companies responsible accountable for their actions. If you support these efforts, please make a donation to support FoFF's Watchdog Program today

Join and Support the Oregon Pasture Network!

Do you raise livestock on pasture? Do you sell directly to the public or to Oregon restaurants and retailers? Then the Oregon Pasture Network (OPN) might be for you. OPN is a free program of Friends of Family Farmers that supports the growth of sustainable, pasture-based livestock production in our state. Farmers and ranchers that participate in the OPN are committed to raising animals responsibly on pasture and protecting our environment. 

The benefits of joining the OPN include being a part of the Oregon Pasture Network Product Guide, access to educational opportunities focused on good grazing management, networking with like-minded and successful producers, and more.

But the Oregon Pasture Network is meant for eaters too! If you are looking for a way to avoid buying products sourced from mega-CAFOs and want to support producers who responsibly raise animals on pasture, then the OPN Product Guide is a great resource. There, you can find producers raising pasture-based alternatives to meat, eggs and dairy produced on factory farms. 

We currently have roughly 50 producers around the state participating in the OPN, and we want to keep growing the network. Apply today to join us in 2018!

Farmer/Rancher Listening Sessions in April & May

We are almost halfway through our 2018 Farmer and Rancher Listening Sessions! To date, over 100 farmers and ranchers from the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon and beyond have made their voices heard in shaping the future of agriculture and food in our state by attending these events.  

Haven't seen us in your neck of the woods yet? We might be there in the coming weeks:

Southern Oregon:  Central Point on April 11

Northwest Oregon: Banks on April 24 & Astoria on April 25

Columbia Gorge: Hood River on April 30 & The Dalles on May 1

Northeast Oregon: Enterprise on May 2 & La Grande on May 3

We also have a survey to help us determine our policy and program priorities for the next few years. One survey is for farmers and ranchers, and the other is for everyone else. If you aren't able to attend one of our Listening Sessions, please take the survey that applies to you today!

New Land Listings, Jobs, Resources on Oregon Farm Link!

Are you looking for a farm job this summer, or farmland to lease, rent, or buy? Or maybe you are a farm owner who has jobs to offer, or land to rent, lease or sell? Either way, Spring is here, and now is the time to visit Oregon Farm Link because it is buzzing with new listings for summer farm work, farm management positions, internships, and more. Start or continue your career in agriculture today with Oregon Farm Link!  

There are new landowners and landseekers joining Oregon Farm Link all the time, providing new listings with opportunities for farm employment and creative land access arrangements for beginning and experienced farmers alike. 

If you have acreage available for farming, post it on Oregon Farm Link today. If you have questions about where to start, contact us at farmlink@friendsoffamilyfarmers.org! We’re happy to help.

Calendar of Events

April 11 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - Central Point

April 14 - Maintaining/Repairing Your Farm Equipment - Medford

April 17 - The Future of Soil: Pesticide Impacts on Farmers, Consumers & the Environment - Medford

April 20 - Farm Succession Planning & Access to Land Workshop - Milwaukie

April 23 - Farm Succession Planning & Access to Land Workshop - Medford

April 24 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - Banks

April 24 - Renovating Pasture and Hay Ground - Eugene

April 25 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - Astoria

April 27 - Farm Succession Planning & Access to Land Workshop - Redmond

April 30 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - Hood River

April 30 - Farm Succession Planning & Access to Land Workshop - Springfield

May 1 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - The Dalles

May 2 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - Enterprise

May 3 - FoFF Farmer & Rancher Listening Session - La Grande

May 8 - Haying and Grazing Management - Eugene

May 9 - Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Land Justice Symposium - Portland

May 16 - Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Land Justice Symposium - Portland

Do you have an upcoming event you'd like to put in our Calendar? Submit your event here for consideration. 

Business Supporter Spotlight: Insurance Solutions Northwest

For the next few months, we will be highlighting some of our dedicated Business Circle members - businesses whose generous contributions help FoFF pay the bills.

One of our newest business supporters is Insurance Solutions Northwest (ISNW). Serving the entire state of Oregon since 2002, ISNW is an independent, locally owned and family operated insurance agent. ISNW offers assistance with health (including Medicare), life, dental, disability, vision, travel, and legal insurance. In addition to donating generously to FoFF, members of their team are also involved Community Supported Agriculture, serving on the board of the Portland Area CSA Coalition. Visit their website today.

Our Business Circle is made up of companies that actively support socially and environmentally responsible family farms and ranches in Oregon. They are committed to letting their customers, the public, and decision-makers know that supporting family-scale agriculture is good for our communities.

Show that your business is committed to promoting and protecting sustainable and socially responsible agriculture in Oregon by becoming a member of our Business Circle. Contact Shari today!


Contact Us

Friends of Family Farmers
249 Liberty St NE, Suite 212
Salem, 97301

We bring together farmers and citizens to shape and support socially and environmentally responsible family-scale agriculture in Oregon.

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