Troubled Mega Dairy owned by a struggling struggling farmer

In 2017, Lost Valley Farm opened the second largest dairy in Boardman, Oregon with big ambitions. It was supposed to have 30,000 cows, but instead it was a disaster with over 200 sewage violations and bankruptcy in less than a year.

Then in February 2019, Cody Easterday purchased the farm for $66.7 million. Easterday is a fourth-generation farmer who runs Easterday Farms in Washington State. He was convinced that better management and investment to complete the incomplete sewage treatment system would do the trick for the farm which would be smaller with a mix of beef and dairy cows.

Well, things in Oregon didn’t go as planned and it looks like Easterday might be ready to bail out.

The farm continued to be cited for its inability to control nitrate levels in the water, and they don’t even have any livestock yet.

Easterday recently filed a multi-million lawsuit against the farm’s former owners, alleging breach of contract and blaming them for the failed cleanup. Easterday wants some $14.5 million from Fall Line Capital and Canyon Farm, which bought the mega dairy after Lost Valley went bankrupt. Or, Easterday just wants out of the purchase contract.

Now if Cody Easterday sounds familiar to you, it’s because he’s the man behind it. the $244 million scam defraud Tyson Foods. His farm in Washington commissioned Tyson and another company to buy and feed 200,000 cattle that didn’t exist. Thus, he is in the midst of a much larger bankruptcy lawsuit in the north.

According to The Tri-City Herald, Easterday’s son is now trying to restart operations in Oregon, but agriculture officials have refused permits until nitrates return to safe levels.

At least it looks like the Easter Days tried to control nitrates. After repeated failures, they finally brought things into compliance by December 2021, but then the Department of Agriculture wanted nine consecutive months of acceptable water samples. The lawsuit blames the former owners as well as the neighboring farm for the nitrate problem. Even if Easterday leaves the farm or if his son can take it over, the nitrate problem must be solved because the aquifer presents a high risk of contamination.

Marjorie N. McClure