News Feeds (RSS) ARTICLE Tillamook subsidiary files lawsuit against troubled Oregon dairy A lawsuit filed by a subsidiary of the Tillamook dairy cooperative seeks to terminate its milk-buying contract with Lost Valley Farm, a troubled Oregon dairy farm. Wed, 13 Jun 2018 14:50:11 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiEO Media Group <p>A subsidiary of the Tillamook County Creamery Association has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop accepting milk from a troubled Boardman dairy in bankruptcy proceedings.</p><p>Lost Valley Farm began supplying Columbia River Processing, the subsidiary, when the dairy opened last year. It has since run into serious regulatory and financial problems.</p><p>The company&#x2019;s owner, Greg te Velde, owes about $67 million to Rabobank, a major agricultural lender that sought to foreclose on Lost Valley Farm&#x2019;s cattle herd.</p><p>A liquidation auction of the cattle was halted in April by te Velde&#x2019;s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which protects the company from actions by creditors while it&#x2019;s restructuring.</p><p>However, the dairy&#x2019;s ability to sell milk to Columbia River Processing has been a major point of contention in the bankruptcy proceedings, with the Tillamook cooperative vowing to stop accepting deliveries at the end of May.</p><p>Tillamook CEO Patrick Criteser argued that his company has terminated its contract with Lost Valley Farm, but te Velde maintains the contract is valid and threatened to sue.</p><p>Columbia River Processing has filed an adversary case &#x2014; a complaint related to the bankruptcy proceedings &#x2014; asking a bankruptcy judge to declare that the contract was terminated before the Chapter 11 case was filed.</p><p>The company submitted a letter terminating its contract with te Velde in late February, citing the dairy&#x2019;s failure to pay debts and the appointment of a receiver to oversee its operations.</p><p>Reputational damage to the Tillamook cooperative and high bacteria levels in Lost Valley Farm&#x2019;s milk have also been cited by CRP in ending the milk-buying agreement.</p><p>When Columbia River Processing offered to negotiate a reinstatement of the contract, te Velde did not respond, according to the complaint.</p><p>If the judge isn&#x2019;t willing to declare the contract invalid or allow CRP to terminate the agreement, the complaint seeks a judgment that would cause the dairy to its lose bankruptcy protections for any further contract violations.</p><p>The issue of CRP&#x2019;s continued acceptance of milk is key to Lost Valley Farm&#x2019;s ability to restructure and remain operational.</p><p>Rabobank cited the impending end of milk sales to CRP as a reason to lift the dairy&#x2019;s bankruptcy protections, which would allow the cattle auction to move forward.</p><p>U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Fredrick Clement denied that request during a hearing last month, but may revisit the matter.</p><p>&#x201c;Frankly, I think this issue is going to resolve itself one way or the other,&#x201d; he said. &#x201c;If Columbia River refuses to accept milk and the debtor is unable to force them to do so, undoubtedly this issue will ... rise to the top of the matters under consideration and will be addressed again by this court.&#x201d;</p><p>The other major factor affecting Lost Valley Farm is its settlement of a lawsuit with Oregon farm regulators over improper wastewater disposal.</p><p>In court documents, te Velde acknowledged he was facing a contempt hearing because ODA claimed the dairy was out of compliance with the deal.</p><p>The judge declined to lift the dairy&#x2019;s bankruptcy protections on these grounds, though he could reconsider if the ODA actually shuts down its operations.</p><p>&#x201c;My guess is the Oregon Department of Agriculture has its remedies without seeking stay relief,&#x201d; Clement said.</p> 2018-06-13 14:50 -04:00 2018-06-13 13:50 -05:00 ARTICLE Adams and Hermiston field days set for June Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center and the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center are presenting their annual Field Days free to the public June 12, 13 and 20. Fri, 08 Jun 2018 17:14:16 -0400 <p>Educational opportunities abound during field days for Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center and the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center this month.</p><p>CBARC&#x2019;s annual Field Day will take place Tuesday at 48937 Tubbs Ranch Road in Adams, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The event will include tours and displays regarding plant breeding, wheat disease, weed control, soil fertility and cropping systems. </p><p>&#x201c;USDA and OSU scientists have been conducting field tours at this location every year since 1930 and we are very proud to continue this tradition today,&#x201d; stated a news release from CBARC. &#x201c;The Field Day is designed to demonstrate to the growers and the public what is being performed at the research center, provide education to the attendees as well as increase the growers&#x2019; potential profit margins.&#x201d;</p><p>Field Day is free and open to anyone with an interest in dry land crop systems. Registration with complementary coffee and doughnuts is at 7:45 a.m. after which attendees will be taken via tour bus to eight different presentations. A free lunch will be provided at 1 p.m. with four more stops on the tour after. The day will wrap up with an ice cream social sponsored by the Oregon Wheat League at 2:30 p.m.</p><p>For more information, visit</p><p>HAREC&#x2019;s Grass Field Day on the west side of Umatilla County took place in May, but its Irrigated Cereal Field Day is scheduled for Wednesday, and its Potato Field Day is June 20.</p><p>Irrigated Cereal Field Day takes place at HAREC, 2121 South First Street, from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The agenda includes seven presentations, with topics ranging from wheat disease to insects affecting cereal crops. Snacks and drinks are provided.</p><p>Potato Field Day also take place at HAREC, with registration from 7:45-8:15 a.m. on June 20 and presentations from 8:15 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. Lunch is provided. Presentations include application of genomic tools on potato breeding, lygus bugs and potato diseases. For more information contact HAREC at 541-567-8321.</p> 2018-06-08 17:14 -04:00 2018-06-08 16:14 -05:00 ARTICLE Controversial Oregon dairy retains bankruptcy protections A judge has decided against lifting bankruptcy protections for Lost Valley Farm of Boardman, Ore., which means the controversial dairy won&#x2019;t be forced to liquidate its cattle. Fri, 01 Jun 2018 14:36:06 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiEO Media Group <p>The Boardman dairy facing a slew of financial and regulatory problems won&#x2019;t be forced to auction off its cattle and will instead seek to sell the animals together with the facility and land.</p><p>U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Fredrick Clement has decided against lifting bankruptcy protections for Lost Valley Farm, effectively forestalling a liquidation sale sought by Rabobank, the dairy&#x2019;s main creditor.</p><p>Rabobank sought to foreclose on the herd to repay some of the $67 million it had loaned to the dairy, but owner Greg te Velde filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, automatically protecting against such actions while he restructures debt.</p><p>His bankruptcy filing canceled a liquidation auction of Lost Valley Farm&#x2019;s cattle in April, but Rabobank has since argued the dairy shouldn&#x2019;t be shielded from foreclosure because it&#x2019;s being mismanaged.</p><p>Rabobank argued that Columbia River Processing, a subsidiary of the Tillamook County Creamery Cooperative, had terminated its contract to buy milk from the dairy and would cease accepting it after May 31.</p><p>Patrick Criteser, Tillamook&#x2019;s CEO, submitted a declaration the contract was terminated because the dairy wasn&#x2019;t paying its debts and had violated quality standards more than 60 times by supplying milk with high bacteria levels.</p><p>The bank also claimed that Lost Valley Farm is out of compliance with its &#x201c;confined animal feeding operation&#x201d; permit, which regulates wastewater, despite a settlement with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.</p><p>Correcting wastewater management problems at the dairy will require expensive remediation, such as emptying and rebuilding manure lagoons, at a cost of nearly $400,000 that&#x2019;s not in the company&#x2019;s budget, according to Rabobank.</p><p>Te Velde&#x2019;s &#x201c;substance abuse problem&#x201d; also weighs against his continued operation of the dairy, since his &#x201c;half-baked, slapdash approach&#x201d; to complying with wastewater regulations is &#x201c;just the latest manifestation of his drug problem,&#x201d; the bank said.</p><p>In court documents, te Velde disputed the contract with Columbia River Processing was terminated, saying that &#x201c;my special counsel and I continue to assert there is a scheduled, valid, executory contract and we are prepared to litigate any act by CRP to discontinue receiving our milk product.&#x201d;</p><p>It&#x2019;s true that ODA has threatened to &#x201c;hold a contempt hearing&#x201d; due to alleged violations of the dairy&#x2019;s wastewater settlement, but the facility will comply with regulations by spreading wastewater on a forage crop to increase open capacity in its manure lagoon, he said.</p><p>Te Velde also claimed he will soon begin work on lining another lagoon and upgrading a wastewater conveyance system but &#x201c;there is no immediate danger of the lagoons overflowing.&#x201d;</p><p>While acknowledging his drug problem, te Velde said he&#x2019;s enrolled in a &#x201c;recovery program&#x201d; and will return to residential treatment for up to three months once his business operations are stabilized.</p><p>&#x201c;It should be noted that while Rabobank has pointed out my substance abuse problem, it does not contend that I have cheated, lied or stolen,&#x201d; he said.</p><p>Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney for Rabobank.</p><p>Riley Walter, an attorney representing te Velde, said he wouldn&#x2019;t characterize the judge&#x2019;s decision as a victory but simply a recognition that lifting bankruptcy protections now would be premature.</p><p>&#x201c;It&#x2019;s the way Chapter 11 should work,&#x201d; Walter said. &#x201c;The debtor is entitled to a reasonable breathing spell to get his house in order.&#x201d;</p><p>Rising milk prices bode well for the dairy&#x2019;s finances, as every $1 increase in price per hundredweight translates to a $130,000 boost in its monthly revenues, he said.</p><p>Te Velde&#x2019;s request to hire a real estate broker to market the Lost Valley Farm property is still pending, but he continues to believe the operation is worth more if it&#x2019;s not sold piecemeal, Walter said.</p><p>The broker would try to sell the property and cattle for $109 million, according to a court document.</p><p>&#x201c;I don&#x2019;t think it&#x2019;s true he will sell at any price, but he will sell if he gets his price,&#x201d; Walter said.</p> 2018-06-01 14:36 -04:00 2018-06-01 13:36 -05:00 ARTICLE Senate committee passes $145.1B agriculture appropriations bill Sen. Jeff Merkley, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, said the bill provides &#x201c;significant resources for rural Americans and Oregonians.&#x201d; Wed, 30 May 2018 18:47:57 -0400 George Plaven <p>The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a $145.1 billion agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019.</p><p>The proposal passed unanimously out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 11. It details $121.8 billion in mandatory program funding and $23.3 billion in discretionary spending, which is $710 million less than 2018 levels but $6.1 billion more than President Donald Trump&#x2019;s budget request.</p><p>Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, said the bill provides &#x201c;significant resources for rural Americans and Oregonians,&#x201d; highlighting increased funding for rural broadband, organic farming programs and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, or ARS.</p><p>The USDA operates three ARS locations in Oregon &#x2014; one in Pendleton, one in Corvallis, and one in Burns. Research projects focus on a variety of crops, from apples and pears to wheat and alfalfa.</p><p>Dan Long, director of the Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center north of Pendleton, said the station&#x2019;s budget annual budget has remained flat at $1.9 million for the last three or four funding cycles.</p><p>The station currently supports five scientists on staff, including an agronomist, soil physicist, soil chemist, hydrologist and soil microbiologist. If one was to retire, Long said he would not be able to fill the vacancy due to inflationary costs.</p><p>&#x201c;We&#x2019;ve been able to survive through attrition,&#x201d; Long said.</p><p>Long said he is not sure where the additional $100 million would be directed, but is pleased to see lawmakers mulling such a large increase for the ARS, which is more than the service has seen in past years.</p><p>&#x201c;It certainly is a great signal that Congress sees the work that ARS is doing is important to the viability of the nation, the nation&#x2019;s food supply and protection of its resources.&#x201d;</p><p>Funding for rural broadband internet would also receive a $425 million increase in 2019, building on the previous fiscal year&#x2019;s investment of $600 million. Farmers and ranchers are becoming increasingly reliant on dependable broadband service as they adopt more precision agriculture technology, such as real-time soil moisture monitors and GPS tractors, into their operations.</p><p>Organic farming is another focus in the Senate appropriations bill, with several programs in line for a funding increase in 2019. The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program would receive $37 million, up $2 million from last year.</p><p>The National Organic Program would get $15 million, up $3 million from 2018, and the Organic Transitions Program &#x2014; which helps farmers transition their land from conventional to organic farming, a process that takes three years before certification in Oregon &#x2014; would receive $6 million, up $1 million over the previous year.</p><p>The appropriations bill also prohibits the federal government from interfering with industrial hemp research and development. Both Sen. Merkley and fellow Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden are pushing to legalize industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which Oregon began regulating in 2016. The program now has 382 registered hemp growers and 119 registered handlers.</p><p>&#x201c;This (appropriations) bill takes a much-needed step toward those rural Oregon goals I&#x2019;ve long worked to achieve,&#x201d; Wyden said in a written statement.</p><p>The bill now heads for a full Senate vote. The House Appropriations Committee already approved its version of the agriculture appropriations bill on May 16 by a 31-20 vote.</p> 2018-05-30 18:47 -04:00 2018-05-30 17:47 -05:00