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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Excel Dairy Permit Denied; Veblen Dairy Dozen Declaring Bankruptcy in ND, MN

Just one minute ago, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency unanimously affirmed these findings of fact and upheld the denial of permit to Excel Dairy in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.

This denial comes on top of a month of deep doo-doo for Veblen's Dairy Dozen. The company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on its Five Star Dairy near Milnor, North Dakota, and on its Excel Dairy near Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Excel Dairy was shuttered due to environmental violations (review the file on that mess at the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's proposed findings of fact).

These filings come in addition to a Chapter 11 filing for the Veblen West CAFO this month and the placement of the Veblen East CAFO in receivership in March. Dairy Dozen chief Rick Millner says the bankruptcy filings are a legal business strategy to keep the doors open and maintain the possibility of paying creditors:

“We could quit and walk away from it and nobody would be getting paid,” [Millner] said. “Or we can reorganize and get our plans put together with everyone getting paid in full. As long as we are in the fight, we can pay people. As soon as we get knocked out, people are going to go unpaid” [Kevin Bonham and Stephen J. Lee, "Excel Dairy Hearing Set for Tuesday in St. Paul," Grand Forks Herald via Agweek, 2010.04.26].

With Excel dairy's permit denied, Millner has fewer doors to keep open. Let's hope the courts can still hold him accountable for bad environmental and business decisions and make sure the Dairy Dozen's creditors get paid their due.

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