Over the past 15 years, Willamette Valley Cheese Company, just outside Salem, has grown from a basement cheesemaking experiment to a regional tourist destination selling its award-winning cheeses throughout the Northwest.
In the creamery’s tasting room, at farmers markets and on its website, owner Rod Volbeda claims the key to the company’s success is its on-site herd of carefully cared for Jersey cows and its sustainable farming practices.
“We milk our own cows and make it into creamy, delicious cheese the same day,” the company’s website reads.
But from its beginning, the creamery’s dairy, called Volbeda Farms, has violated environmental laws that regulate the safe handling, storage and disposal of manure. By July 2016, the Oregon Department of Agriculture had cited the dairy nine times, for 19 violations, and fined it thousands of dollars.
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