Tuesday | December 12, 2017
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New deal on table for Hawi dairy

The owner of Cloverleaf Dairy is looking to hand his family business over to another company after a deal reached in 2016 fell through.

Last year, Ed Boteilho agreed to sell the dairy, located on 880 acres of state land in Hawi, to Mauna Kea Moo LLC. The state Land Board approved assignment of the lease in August 2016.

But, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, that deal was canceled the following November because the buyer was unable to finance the purchase.

On Friday, the board will consider a request to assign the lease to another company, HFD Farms 1 LLC, formed by mainland entrepreneur Josh Gottlieb. HFD’s parent company is Hawaii Agriculture, Energy and Earth Products.

Gary Zimmer, described by the company as the father of biological agriculture, would be the dairy’s general manager.

The dairy is one of two on Hawaii Island, with the other being Big Island Dairy in Ookala.

The Boteilho family owned and operated the dairy for more than 50 years. As of last year, the dairy owned 700 milk cows.

Boteilho, reached by cellphone Tuesday afternoon, declined to comment.

He previously said the dairy would suffer if regulations on wholesale milk prices were allowed to fall.

In 2015, Meadow Gold, the state’s only dairy processor, cut its price for wholesale milk.

The processor, owned by Dean Foods, told the state Department of Agriculture it would stop buying local milk if rules governing wholesale prices weren’t changed. The state Board of Agriculture approved an amendment allowing the lower prices in late 2014.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported this week that Big Island Dairy is opening its own milk processing facility and will distribute milk statewide under its own name in January. Since 1999, eight Hawaii dairies have closed, the paper reported.

A group of Ookala residents is suing the dairy for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act because of discharges of wastewater into gulches. A trial is set for 2019.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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