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Published: Monday, 2/19/2007

Judge delays decision in megadairy case


LANSING Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James R. Giddings wants more time to decide whether to hold Vreba-Hoff Dairy LLC in contempt of its 2004 agreement with Michigan environmental regulators.

The judge, after hearing more evidence from both sides, continued the case to March 1. Robert McCann, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, said a ruling could come shortly thereafter.

The Michigan DEQ and the state attorney general s office are seeking a 40 percent reduction in the combined herd at Vreba-Hoff s two facilities south of Hudson, Mich.

State officials accuse the company of illegally spreading manure from the two megafarms. They contend the company is unable to handle more than 3,700 cows.

It has 6,050 between the two sites. Vreba-Hoff built a $1 million treatment facility for cow waste as part of an agreement it made in court with the state on Dec. 22, 2004.

The agreement was seen as a landmark for dealing with growing concerns of megafarms classified as concentrated animal feeding operations.

They produce milk and other farm products efficiently and at affordable prices.

But because of their concentrated animal populations, they have a waste problem too.

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