The owner of a controversial new mega-dairy in Boardman has been arrested on charges of patronizing a prostitute and possessing methamphetamine.
Greg te Velde, 59, was among 10 people arrested in a Tri-Counties, Wash. prostitution sting.
He was booked into the Benton County Jail in Kennewick, Wash. at 1:36 a.m. Aug. 19 and was later freed on bail.
Oregon regulators approved Te Velde’s Lost Valley Farm in March, despite formal objections from a dozen state and national health and environment organizations that raised concerns about air and water pollution, water use and health impacts on nearby communities.
The facility, which is permitted to have 30,000 animals, is located on 7,000 acres near the 70,000-head Threemile Canyon Farms, one of the largest dairies in the nation. Both supply milk to the Tillamook County Dairy Cooperative, maker of Oregon’s famous Tillamook Cheese.
Richland police, Kennewick police and the Benton County (Wash.) Sheriff's Office coordinated the undercover prostitution sting over the weekend.
His arrest is the most recent in a string of problems for te Velde, who lives in Tipton, California.
Last month, te Velde was convicted of careless driving contributing to an accident after he hit an Oregon Department of Transportation truck on Interstate 84 in Hood River County. He was fined $450, which, as of Thursday, had not been paid, according to court records.
And te Velde is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a company that worked on the dairy’s construction.
The lawsuit, filed in June by Idaho-based Laser Land Leveling Inc., alleges the company is owed $1.4 million on a total $5.8 million contract.
The company is asking the court to foreclose its lien against te Velde and the dairy and order the property be sold to settle the claim.
Cellphones for te Velde and dairy manager Travis Love would not accept messages Thursday. In a statement provided by the dairy’s public relations company, Love said, “We take these allegations seriously. It is our policy not to comment on personnel matters, pending court proceedings.”
Tillamook County Creamery Association also released a statement:
“We were extremely disappointed to learn of these allegations, and they very clearly go against the values and behaviors we hold true at the Tillamook Creamery Association,” it reads in part. “The staff that we’ve worked closely with at Lost Valley are hard-working and dedicated to supplying high-quality milk, and we recognize that the alleged personal actions of one individual should not tarnish the professional reputation of everyone involved in the operation. That said, we expect the Lost Valley Farm organization to respond swiftly, responsibly and with a high degree of accountability in regards to this situation.”
Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesman Bruce Pokarney said the arrest will not affect the dairy’s Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit.
“The allegations of criminal activity will be handled by the appropriate law enforcement agencies and do not involve the operations of the dairy,” Pokarney said.
Te Velde had operated the nearby Willow Creek Dairy, with 8,000 animals, since 2002 on land leased from Threemile Canyon Farms.
In fall 2015 he purchased about 7,000 acres of the former Boardman Tree Farm, and moved the dairy there.
The lawsuit also names Boardman Tree Farm as a defendant.
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