State issues CAFO fines for manure handling problems
By Eric Mortenson
Eight Oregon dairies and livestock handling businesses were fined for discharging manure, failing to file paperwork or other violations of Confined Animal Feeding Operation regulations in 2013.
The largest fine, $4,455, was levied against Jer-Osa Organic Dairy of Gervais, for discharging animal waste into the waters of the state on three occasions and failing to maintain adequate manure storage. Owner Jerome Rosa is a member of the Oregon Board of Agriculture, which is appointed by the governor to advise Director Katy Coba on policy issues.
Rosa said the civil penalty is embarrassing and potentially harmful to his business. He believes the Department of Agriculture is “clearly making an example out of me” because of his position on the board.
Department spokesman Bruce Pokarney said Rosa was treated the same as every other CAFO permit holder.
Rosa said an underground manure transfer pipeline cracked, leaking waste. The ag department, alerted by one of Rosa’s neighbors, tested water in a roadside ditch and found extremely high bacteria levels in December 2012 and January 2013. Water in the ditches could have eventually made its way to the Willamette River, but the department has no evidence of a health impact, Matthews said.
The manure could have flowed to the ditches because storage facilities were too full, fields became saturated during heavy rainfall or due to a damaged pipe, Matthews said. The department does not know how much material was involved.
“The best set of structures and plans don’t deliver water quality improvements,” Matthews said. “It’s the management of all those things that does that.”
Rosa is a fourth-generation dairyman who has held leadership positions with the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and Oregon Beef Council. His four-year ag board position expires Oct. 31.
More than 500 facilities, many of them dairies, hold CAFO permits from the state. Ag department staff conducted 721 inspections of CAFO facilities in 2013 and issued 34 “non-compliance” notices, eventually resulting in eight civil penalties. Matthews said the department first works to gain compliance by helping operators solve problems; civil penalties are issued as a last resort and are noted in an annual news release often issued months after the violations.
Other CAFO operations fined by the department include:
Eugene Livestock Auction, Inc., Heart of the Rogue Farm in Grants Pass and Shan-Cole Farm of Tillamook were fined $640 for failing to file annual reports. Parker Dairy of Astoria was issued a $600 civil penalty for violations related to CAFO license fees.
Moisan Dairy of Salem was fined $2,880 and Jenck Farms LLC of Tillamook was fined $160 for failing to follow their previously approved animal waste management plans. DeVries Dairy of Turner was fined $1,280 civil penalty for discharging manure to surface waters of the state.