Easterday Dairy violated its confined animal feeding operation water pollution permit dozens of times in the three month period from June to September, 2022, according to an April 13th Notice of Noncompliance/Plan of Correction provided by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to Food & Water Watch in response to a public records request. ODA failed to assess a dime in penalties or deny the pending mega-dairy permit outright.
The latest series of violations followed a February 2022 Notice of Noncompliance for violations of groundwater nitrate limits. Incredibly, this extensive list of violations has occurred without a single animal on site. Easterday has a “zero animal” permit while ODA considers its pending application to run a nearly 30,000 head dairy on the site. This latest development in the Easterday saga comes as state lawmakers weigh regulations on new and expanding factory farms like the proposed Easterday Dairy.
Blatant pollution by factory farms has caught legislators’ attention in Salem, with multiple bills to restrict this industry and its pollution under consideration. Scores of activists spoke out against factory farms at a series of public hearings this Spring.
Factory farm pollution is a well-documented threat to clean water and public health. Morrow County, where Easterday seeks to confine nearly 30,000 cows and their waste, is already home to some of Oregon’s largest factory farms. It has also been under a State of Emergency for more than nine months, after water testing revealed high levels of cancer-causing nitrates in residents’ drinking water. Factory farm waste is a known contributor to this dangerous contamination.
Food & Water Watch Legal Director Tarah Heinzen issued the following statement:
“Like the disastrous Lost Valley Farm before it, Easterday Dairy is a demonstrated threat to public health and the environment — even without a single animal on site. But once again, ODA has issued a slap on the wrist when it should have denied the mega-dairy permit once and for all. ODA’s failure to hold factory farms accountable is failing Oregonians.
“The crystal clear track record of pollution at the Lost Valley and Easterday operations points to one thing: Oregon needs to press pause on factory farming. Lax regulation and business as usual are no answer to the pollution this industry brings to our state. Legislators must pass a bill this year that will address the threats posed by both new and existing factory farms in the state.”