Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
By Nancy Allen
Area dairy to close
Rockford facility filed bankruptcy last year
  ROCKFORD - Unable to find a buyer after filing for bankruptcy protection late last year, the 2,100-head Hopewell Dairy southwest of Rockford is closing.
Hopewell was placed into receivership by a bankruptcy judge last year, according to documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Toledo. Receivership allows a company to avoid liquidation by reorganizing with the help of a court-appointed trustee.
Wisconsin firm Roach & Associates was appointed receiver and took over operation and ownership of the dairy located on Tama Road in October.
"We went through a process where we tried to sell it with the cattle and machinery and were unable to do so," said John Roach, the firm's owner. "So at this point, it is illogical to continue operating the dairy."
Roach said the process of removing the cattle from the megadairy began about two weeks ago and should be complete by the end of next week. About 75 percent of the cattle are already gone, he said.
The dairy's former owner, Albertus DeBruyn, moved from the Netherlands to operate the dairy. He left Ohio before it was placed into receivership and was handed over to a general manager employed by Vreba-Hoff, Roach said.
Vreba-Hoff Dairy Development, a U.S. firm with Dutch ties, had served as a consultant and developer for the dairy. Vreba-Hoff spokeswoman Cecelia Conway said the cause of Hopewell Dairy's financial situation was due to record-low milk prices and high feed costs that plagued the entire dairy industry for the past year or more prior to the bankruptcy filing.
Roach said his firm is coordinating the closure with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which holds an operating permit for the dairy, to make sure there is enough manure storage.
If the dairy has not been sold by Oct. 30, Roach said his firm will re-evaluate the amount of manure storage needed to get through the winter. If there is not enough, the manure will be applied on nearby cropland in the fall. The manure storage structure also collects rainwater runoff from the farm which could cause it to overflow if not monitored and emptied.
Roach said an auction will be held June 12 to sell machinery from Hopewell and three other dairies also placed into receivership with his firm. They are Rock Creek Dairy near Bluffton, Ind.; Olman Dairy near Hicksville and Chesterfield Dairy near Wauseon.
The court action came on the heels of a lawsuit against the dairy filed in late September by AgStar Financial Services, Minnesota, involving default on commercial loans the dairy had with AgStar.
According to the bankruptcy court, Hopewell Dairy owed almost $21.4 million to various creditors, including AgStar, at the time.
Construction of the dairy began in 2005 and milking started in April 2007. Prior to that, many neighbors objected to the large dairy. Public meetings and hearings were held on the matter before the Ohio Department of Agriculture ultimately granted the necessary permits.
When it was at full operation, the dairy milked cows three times a day and employed about 30 people.
Additional online stories for this date
Print edition only stories for this date
• Contractor putting street back together
• Still under construction
• Big changes on horizon for school curriculum
• Weather suspends another tight affair with 'Skins, Flyers
• Wenning an easy choice as league's top player
• Stout rewarded for great season with St. Henry
• Celina has strong day at Districts
a_d
Thursday Night
41°
Mostly Cloudy
1%
Friday
61°
Partly Sunny
5%
Friday Night
48°
Partly Cloudy
9%
Saturday
68°
Partly Sunny
12%
Saturday Night
44°
Mostly Clear
4%
Sunday
61°
Mostly Sunny
Sunday Night
45°
Mostly Clear
5%
Monday
73°
Partly Sunny
5%
Monday Night
58°
Partly Cloudy
Tuesday
72°
Mostly Cloudy
48%
Tuesday Night
48°
Rain Showers Likely
70%
3 Day
Extended
a_da_d
camera_logo Photo Albums
Wednesday, October 22
index pict
Tuesday, October 21
index pict
video_logoOnline Video
Thursday, October 2
index pict
Accident at 127 and 119
Monday, September 29
index pict
Grand Lake Marathon