Big Island Dairy Closes After Hawaii Residents Fight Back

Hawaii residents have had enough. Big Island Dairy is shutting its doors after residents filed a lawsuit against the company. Residents of Ookala claim the dairy factory farm repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act. The situation became critical two years ago when storms breached the farm’s waste lagoons, spilling manure and urine into waterways.

According to VegNews, the 1,800-cow dairy farm discharged 2.3 million gallons of liquid waste in May. The Department of Health later fined Big Island Dairy $25,000 after about 5.6 million more gallons spilled into local waterways in August.

The nonprofit Kupale Ookala filed the lawsuit against Big Island Dairy after the farm “discharged millions of gallons of liquid waste, polluting water and making the residents sick.”

“All that effluent ended up coming into Ookala,” said Charlene Nishida, vice president of Kupale Ookala. “The town got shut down; the school bus couldn’t deliver children.”

The dairy industry has a horrendous record of violating environmental regulations and polluting water. Earlier this year, Indiana dairy farm High Point Dairy agreed to pay a $9,600 civil penalty fine plus a $1,775 reimbursement to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources after manure overflowed into nearby Fountain Creek, killing upwards of 3,500 fish. Similarly, the second-largest dairy farm in Oregon, Lost Valley Farm, lost its operating permit for repeatedly mismanaging its waste and contaminating legally protected groundwater with cow manure. And an HP Hood dairy facility in Frederick County, Virginia, has regularly exceeded water pollution limits since 2014.

But these aren’t the only cases—this happens all the time. Environmental pollution is incredibly common in the animal agriculture industry. In total, animal excrement and agricultural runoff have polluted nearly one-third of rivers in the U.S. Factory farms are also to blame for widespread contamination of drinking water.

In 2014 alone, Tyson Foods or its subsidiaries dumped more than 20 million pounds of pollutants directly into our waterways, according to a 2016 report by Environment America. That number doesn’t include the pollution from Tyson’s factory farms raising livestock and is six times more than Exxon for the same period. Perdue Farms and Pilgrim’s Pride also ranked higher than Exxon in amount of water pollution.

In April 2017 a seafood processing plant was forced to pay $3.2 million for violating air pollution regulations when employees at Westward Seafoods in Unalaska turned off pollution controls and falsified records eight years ago. Also in April of last year, more than 190,000 gallons of manure from Tony Silveira Dairy spilled into Tillamook Bay in Oregon.

Dairy factory farming is not only damaging to human health and the environment but unspeakably cruel. At dairy factory farms, cows are routinely brutalized, forcibly impregnated, and kept in horrendous conditions. Torn from their mothers at birth, male calves are killed for veal and females are raised to produce more milk. At the end of their miserable and heartbreaking lives, cows are sent to a violent slaughter.

Watch this Mercy For Animals undercover investigation into New York’s largest dairy farm.


Help protect our planet, your health, and animals by joining the millions who are boycotting the destructive factory farming industry by ditching dairy and other animal products. To get started, check out these eight ways to eat less dairy without even trying!