DNR rep to talk about Vreba-Hoff sale 2011.05.18

Written by David Green.

A public meeting is scheduled tonight (Wednesday) at the Hudson Community Center to provide information about the transition of Hudson area dairy operations from Vreba-Hoff ownership to Southern Michigan Dairy.

A representative of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality will speak about the transfer of ownership and answer questions about the DEQ’s continued role in the farms’ operation.

Southern Michigan Dairy is a subsidiary of the Rabo Agrifinance Bank which took over operation of Vreba-Hoff dairy facilities in November 2010.

Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan will serve as host for the 7:30 p.m. meeting. The Hudson Community Center is located at 323 W. Main St.

CONSENT ORDER—The DEQ’s Water Resources Division signed an administrative consent order March 29 as a result of the transfer of ownership from the former Vreba-Hoff dairies located on Dillon Highway in Medina Township and on U.S. 127 in Hillsdale County, plus the former Waldron Dairy in Hillsdale County.

The document confirms that Southern Michigan Dairy is subject to the terms of a 2004 Consent Judgment and a 2007 Interim Order from the DEQ, and it lays out a time extension for compliance with certain provisions of the old orders.

The document notes that required drawings of structures related to manure management were never submitted by Vreba-Hoff to the DEQ. The drawings are in existence at the offices of an engineering company, the document states, but have not been released because Vreba-Hoff failed to pay fees for the creation of the drawings.

Vreba-Hoff also failed to empty and close a satellite waste storage lagoon located on Packard Road.

Southern Michigan Dairy was given a May 15 deadline to provide drawings of the structures for the two large dairies. There is also an Oct. 1 deadline to empty and close a structure at the Dillon Highway facility or to prove its compliance to regulations by Aug. 1.

Other structures at all three dairies must be shown to be in compliance by April 1, 2012.

The lagoon on Packard Road must be emptied and closed by Sept. 30 of this year. Land application of the manure must meet state regulations for semisolids.

The order calls for Southern Michigan Dairy to pay $100,000 as a partial payment to Vreba-Hoff’s unpaid liabilities to the state. Fines for violations are set at $200 per violation per day, growing to $500.

The order also calls for notification by the bank of any potential buyer of the dairies.

Only the U.S. 127 facility is currently in operation with an approximate herd size of 2,400 head.

FORECLOSURE—Foreclosure of the three dairies was recorded in October 2010, but additional foreclosure action was granted May 9 in Lenawee County Circuit Court.

According to a story in the Adrian Daily Telegram, First Merchants Bank is now in control of two parcels in Medina Township totaling 218 acres and a parcel in Ogden Township totaling 200 acres. The Odgen land was purchased for the development of a 5,000 head dairy.

The foreclosure also includes a 370-acre farm in St. Joseph County and a loan for a dairy in Indiana.

Debts total more than $4.8 million on vacant land.

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