State files lawsuit against Pleasant Valley Farms of Berkshire

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ST. ALBANS – The state of Vermont filed a lawsuit against Pleasant Valley Farms of Berkshire, and its operators Mark St. Pierre and Amanda St. Pierre for violations of Vermont’s agricultural laws and regulations.

The alleged violations stem from actions at the Lumbra Farm in Berkshire, a dairy farm owned by the St. Pierres that the State alleges is part of the Pleasant Valley Farms operation.

In the Complaint, the State alleges that, in 2017, Pleasant Valley Farms and the St. Pierres expanded an existing barn at the Lumbra Farm without obtaining any necessary permits and approvals and without providing required advanced notice to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

The barn is alleged to have increased in size from around 13,000 square feet to approximately 104,000 square feet.

The barn went from approximately 120 feet long to approximately 825 feet long.

In addition to the unpermitted barn expansion, the State alleges that Pleasant Valley Farms and the St. Pierres also built a 10-million-gallon manure pit, capable of accommodating waste for more than 1,500 mature dairy cows, at the Lumbra Farm without required notice or advanced approval.

“We have a long and proud tradition of farming, agriculture, and environmental stewardship in Vermont,” said Attorney General Donovan. “We need to continue to support our farmers while also protecting water quality and the environment by applying these rules across the board.”

In addition to claims relating to the failure to obtain necessary permits and pre-construction approval, the State has alleged violations of Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices for the farm’s failure to have a nutrient management plan or maintain necessary documents during a 2018 inspection of the Lumbra Farm by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

RAPs are standards to which all types of Vermont farms must be managed to assure agricultural pollution does not reach Vermont’s waters.

The State’s seven-count complaint, which was filed in the Vermont Superior Court, Franklin Unit today, seeks an order requiring that Pleasant Valley Farms and the St. Pierres, among other things:

Apply for a Large Farm Operation (LFO) permit for the Lumbra Farm.
Bring the Lumbra Farm into compliance with all required RAPs and LFO rules.
Pay civil penalties as permitted by law.