Did you see this awful story last month?
To sum up, a Tracy dairyman was ordered to clean up his property after officials found a dead cow that Tosta had attempted to bury.
Proper procedure is to have a rendering company come and pick up dead animals. Burying them can contaminate groundwater and spread disease.
Based on some statements Tosta made (warning: inspection report with graphic photos), the state came to the conclusion there might be several hundred dead cows buried on the property.
Not so, says Tosta. I finally caught up with him last week.
Excavation of the property, as ordered by the state, revealed only three skulls and “maybe 80 to 90 pounds worth of bones,” Tosta said.
“Three animals. That’s all there was,” he said.
The state came to the conclusion there might be as many as 436 cows buried there, based upon Tosta supposedly saying he buried four to six cows each month for a period of five to six years. Tosta told me his statement was misunderstood.
“If 436 cows died I’d be out of business,” he said.
Tosta said the rendering companies won’t always pick up carcasses, depending on where they are and what kind of condition they’re in. In the past, common practice in those cases has been to bury cows, he said.
Dairymen are frustrated with the state’s actions in his case, Tosta said.
“They’ve all had to do the same thing (bury cows),” he said. “Dairymen make their living off these cows. We want to keep them alive more than anybody in the world. We have to make money off them.”
Tosta claimed in the inspection report that a representative from San Joaquin County Environmental Health, Mike Huggins, told him it was OK to bury cows. Huggins has since died, but a spokesman for Environmental Health told me recently that the department would “never” have approved of what Tosta did.
We’ll see if the state takes any more action in this case.