BOARDMAN – Easterday Ranches of Franklin County is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Tyson Foods. Both the ranch and Easterday Farms have filed for bankruptcy, and that suit is mentioned among millions of dollars in outstanding debts. Now, a coalition is asking the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to deny a permit for Easterday Farms to operate a mega-dairy in Boardman.
“We know from experience that the ODA and DEQ are likely to claim they don’t have the authority to deny Easterday’s permit,” Tarah Heinzen, the legal director of Food & Water Watch, one of the groups in the coalition, stated in a news release. “Recent events underscore that this is just not true. They can deny a permit to any applicant who hasn’t disclosed all relevant facts or who has misrepresented any facts in their application. Easterday Ranches’ and Easterday Farms’ significant financial distress surely qualifies.”
Easterday Farms purchased the Lost Valley Farm when the state pulled environmental permits for that dairy. Other groups involved in the coalition calling for the disqualification include Columbia Riverkeeper, and Stand up to Factory Farms.
More long-lasting problems for Easterday could come from the Oregon Legislature. They are considering bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that would force a moratorium on mega-dairies. House Bill 2924 is being considered by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, while Senate Bill 583 has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.