These were for 12 farms in Licking, Hardin, and Wyandot counties. This followed a hearing before an independent hearing officer who recommended revocation of OFE’s permits to install and permits to operate due to incomplete information about the farm’s owner on the original application.
By law, OFE is required to identify on the application individuals who control or have the right in any way to control or manage the farm. The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it learned that OFE’s permit applications did not disclose arrangements regarding ownership and control of OFE by Austin “Jack” DeCoster. Consequently, Wise said, the department did not run a background check for environmental noncompliance on him. If the applications had disclosed DeCoster’s ownership and control when filed in 2003, a background check of environmental noncompliance would have indicated a substantial violation history, including recognition as a “habitual violator” in Iowa, the Ohio Department of Agriculture said.
“Ohio has a very stringent large livestock permitting program, which exceeds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements in at least 10 regulatory areas,” Wise said. “We expect compliance from all farms, regardless of size, and while the majority of Ohio farms are managed with honesty and integrity, Ohio law is very clear that permits based on false or misleading information must be revoked.”
The order includes revocation of all permits issued for OFE’s Croton egg farm, which includes four layer sites, four pullet sites, and a hatchery and breeder pullet site. It also includes revocation of all permits issued to OFE for the Mt. Victory egg farm and Goshen pullet farm located in Hardin County, and the Marseilles egg farm in Wyandot County.
Ohio Fresh Eggs may appeal this decision to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC).