Water Fight Settled, Plans Given

Published online: Dec 27, 2000
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The settlement of a six-year dispute over Columbia River water at Boardman, OR, will pave the way for a 25,000-cow dairy operation and a 41,000-acre farm.

The agreement involves Three-mile Canyon Farms which is developing one of the nation's largest dairy operations on a 93,000-acre tract of land leased from the state about 17 miles west of Boardman.

The settlement allows the farm to draw about one-third as much water as originally planned, increasing the efficiency by sophisticated irrigation techniques and operating a so-called closed-loop system in which farm wastes are recycled.

The farming operation is on land leased by Oregon in 1963 for 77 years to the Boeing Aircraft Company for possible development as a space-age industrial park.

North Dakota-based R.D. Offutt, a major agribusiness company and the nation's largest potato grower bought the Boeing subsidiary last May.

The company is building three dairies at the site that will house more than 25,000 dairy cows. This will be a $185 million investment that will produce 270 permanent and 410 seasonal jobs.

Plans are for the farm to irrigate 41,000 acres and grow enough potatoes to equal the average yearly consumption of seven million people-about 9.8 million cwt.