Vreba-Hoff faces foreclosure threat 10.13.2010

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Vreba-Hoff Dairy is stuck in a position of having too few cattle and at the same time too many.

By not being able to operate at full capacity, Vreba-Hoff dairy owners claim they’re unable to make payments on fines levied by the state’s environmental agency.

But that’s just the problem, says the state. The two dairies northwest of Morenci are unable to adequately handle the manure created by the livestock, and that’s what brought the forced reduction in herd size.

A $580,000 lien against Vreba-Hoff’s two dairies was recently approved in Ingham County Circuit Court, on behalf of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE). Judge James Giddings is giving the state and the dairy until Oct. 18 to reach a settlement.

The lien covers $180,000 in unpaid penalties assessed against Vreba-Hoff—due to the concentration of pollutants applied to fields in irrigation—and $400,000 in financial assurance.

The MDNRE is seeking a reduction of 600 cows a month until the dairies meet standards set for manure application onto fields.

Vreba-Hoff’s troubles compounded last week with news that a mortgage company is seeking foreclosure on $55 million in loans.

Rabo Agrifinances, based in Delaware, filed a complaint Oct. 5 in federal court in Grand Rapids, alleging Vreba-Hoff has defaulted on loans; allowed property taxes to go unpaid; and failed to plant crops on a significant portion of the mortgaged land. Furthermore, Rabo claims the Michigan dairies are being devalued by the state government action listed above.

Rabo wishes to place the properties in receivership to prevent continued diminishment of value.

In addition to the Vreba-Hoff I and II dairies, the foreclosure affects Waldron Dairy in Hillsdale County; Blue Stream Farms near Convoy, Ohio; Wild Cat Farms near Payne, Ohio; and Williams Dairy Farm near Prospect, Ohio.

Rabo Agrifinance loaned the money to Vreba-Hoff in 2007 and 2008.

A judge will hear an emergency motion Oct. 19 to rule on the receivership request.

Chesterfield Dairy east of Morenci was placed in receivership in September 2009 with a debt of $8.5 million owed to AgStar Financial Services of Minnesota. Vreba-Hoff served as a consultant and developer of the dairy.

Chesterfield closed and was sold at auction. Bridgewater Dairy of Montpelier, Ohio, announced the purchase of the dairy in September and will reopen the facility under the name Oakshade Dairy.

  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017