Lawmakers: Rescue plan for Hawaii’s last commercial dairy underway
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The bankruptcy reorganization of Hawaii’s last commercial dairy marks another sad chapter in the long demise of the state’s dairy industry.
But lawmakers said a rescue plan for Hawaii’s Cloverleaf Dairy is already underway.
“This is the only dairy in the state,” said state Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who represents Hilo. “I’m giving them my support, making sure that Cloverleaf survives.”
Recent bankruptcy court filing show that 85.7% of the stock in Cloverleaf’s parent company — Boteihlo Enterprises Inc. — is now owned by local businessman Bahman Sadeghi.
Sadeghi also owns Meadow Gold Dairy Hawaii.
Inouye said a takeover by Sadeghi will keep the dairy alive.
“The majority of the residents here and throughout the state supports Meadow Gold,” she said.
Under new ownership, the Big Island dairy can emerge from bankruptcy, invest in more modern equipment and expand its operations.
Sadeghi also owns land nearby which has available water sources for Cloverleaf’s drought-stricken herd, Inouye said.
Cloverleaf — which lost $94,000 last year — said the recent drought forced it to send 200 of its cows, or about half its herd, to a neighboring ranch to graze.
But the company said that neighboring ranch — Dutch Hawaiian Dairy Farms — has refused to return the cows due to a dispute over grazing fees.
Company President Ed Boteihlo said that caused most of the losses, triggering the bankruptcy filing.
“The losses are primarily due to inadequate herd size, compounded by the refusal of Dutch Hawaiian Dairy Farms LLC ... to return a large number of cattle which were put on (its) property in 2020 during a drought period,” Boteihlo said.
Dutch Hawaiian declined comment on the dispute, citing potential litigation. It said it has a separate agreement to acquire Cloverleaf, which it plans to continue pursuing.
Any sale requires the approval of the bankruptcy court.
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