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The Urgent Case for a Moratorium on Mega-Dairies in Oregon

Center for Food Safety

In the last 20 years, Oregon has become particularly attractive to massive CAFOs due to lax environmental regulations and an existing export infrastructure for dairy products, particularly at the Port of Morrow in Boardman, Oregon. This influx of "mega-dairies" has been coupled with the loss of small- and mid-sized family dairies, shifting the landscape to be dominated by larger operations with outsized environmental impacts and political clout to avoid regulation. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are some of the most egregious environmental polluters, causing serious health concerns for local communities due to the spread of disease-resistant bacteria, toxic manure runoff that contaminates local soils and drinking water, and severe air pollution and odors. Of particular note and concern are Threemile Canyon Farms (a 70,000 head mega-dairy) and Lost Valley Farm (30,000 head), both of which are located in the Lower Umatilla Basin. The Lower Umatilla Basin already suffers nitrate-contaminated groundwater and drinking water and severe air pollution. The introduction of Threemile and Lost Valley only threaten to exacerbate these impacts on environmental and public health. For example, in 2005 Threemile emitted the highest level of ammonia reported in any industry and was not even operating at its full capacity.

Oregon needs a "time out" on mega-dairies until it can ensure protection of Oregon's environment, community health, and family farms. The newest mega-dairy, Lost Valley Farm, racked up over 200 violations of its water discharge permit in the less than 2 years of operation, costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, and while the operation was recently sold after its notorious owner went into bankruptcy, the new owners may attempt to resume operations under a new permit within the year. Without a moratorium on new or expanded mega-dairies to give Oregon time to strengthen its air and water pollution laws and to look critically at the animal welfare and small farmer impacts of mega-dairies, we could see another disastrous Lost Valley and even more of these "too big to fail" operations.

Help us stop the expansion of harmful mega-dairy CAFOs in the state and shift animal production toward proven, sustainable models! Join the movement today!

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