Big Island Dairy’s closure is hardship for Oahu dairy

WAIANAE, Hawaii (AP) — The impending closure of Big Island Dairy is complicating the operations of a small dairy on another island.

Naked Cow Dairy in Waianae is the only dairy on the island of Oahu. It produces gourmet butter and artisan cheese with milk from its small herd. When their cows aren’t milking, they rely on shipments from Big Island Dairy.

Citing financial and regulatory reasons, Big Island Dairy will cease operations by the end of April. As part of a settlement with a community group and an environmental organization, the dairy must stop milking cows by end of February. Kupale Ookala and the Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit against Big Island Dairy in 2017, alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

Residents have long complained about releases of manure-laden water from the dairy into the nearby gulches that run through or next to the community.

Naked Cow Dairy is now rushing to raise $200,000 to purchase about 50 cows from the closing dairy, Hawaii News Now reported.

“We’re going to have to do it on our own somehow, otherwise we won’t exist,” said Naked Cow Dairy owner Monique van der Stroom. “Somehow we’ll figure it out, but this is an opportunity, a sad opportunity, but an opportunity for us to actually grow and take on some of the milk that we’re losing.”

Other cows from Big Island Dairy have already been sold. A group that rescued animals during last year’s Kilauea eruption bought 61 bottle-fed calves. Those animals now have homes at animal sanctuaries and private properties across the Big Island. The Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network hopes to raise money to buy another group of cows.