Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lost Valley Farm Owner Called "Drug-Addled" in Court Filing

In a court filing, Dutch agricultural lender Rabobank is seeking relief from a bankruptcy court in order to auction off the dairy herd at Boardman's Lost Valley Farm (LVF), owned by California businessman Greg te Velde, according to an article in the Capital Press.

In a previous court filing, Rabobank had claimed that te Velde was in default on more than $67 million dollars in loans from the bank on three dairies (two in California). The herd was to have been auctioned off at the end of April, but a last-minute bankruptcy filing by te Velde halted the auction. The bank is seeking to reinstate the auction order because te Velde claims he has "no cash on hand" and is asking the bank for another $4 million in advances to pay for "feed, water, and labor" at the facility.

Concerned that te Velde's lack of cash could have "potentially catastrophic consequences" to its collateral at Lost Valley Farm, Rabobank stated in the court filing that "te Velde’s 'erratic and unreliable' behavior is caused by 'habitual' use of methamphetamine." It goes on to state that "while Rabobank will act responsibly to protect the value of the LVF herd, Rabobank is not willing to finance the drug-addled fanciful dreams of this Debtor during a lengthy Chapter 11 case that involves about 24,000 cows, 28,000 other head of livestock, three dairies in two states and about $160 million in total debt."

Tillamook County Creamery Association, whose Columbia River Processing (CRP) plant in Boardman buys milk from Lost Valley, had threatened to pull out of the contract it has with the dairy. The bank said that "te Velde checked out of a drug rehab clinic in April to convince Columbia River Processing…to reinstate the milk-buying contract, but then returned to the facility." The article quotes  Patrick Criteser, CEO of the Tillamook creamery, who submitted a declaration supporting Rabobank's request, said that Tillamook "is buying milk from the dairy until Rabobank is able to conduct an auction but will stop after May 31."

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Read the series of posts outlining the long history of problems at Lost Valley Farm since it opened just a year ago, including cows standing in manure from overflowing lagoons and a leak in a tank containing dead cows, as well as groundwater pollution, lawsuits from the state of Oregon and creditors, and te Velde's own arrest for soliciting a prostitute and possession of methamphetamine in Benton County, Washington.

My article Big Milk, Big Issues for Local Communities reports on the issues mega-dairies pose to Oregon's air, water, environment and communities. You can also find out Why I'm Quitting Tillamook Cheese and read other coverage about factory farms in Oregon.

Top photo from Google Maps.

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