HANSEN, Idaho • Wendell dairyman Luis Bettencourt has sold Dry Creek Dairy, one of the largest dairies in the U.S., with 10,000 milk cows.
Bettencourt made national news in 2012 when a video, secretly filmed by a Mercy For Animals employee, revealed animal abuse at his dairy south of Hansen.
Bettencourt said he sold the dairy three weeks ago, but he declined to discuss it.
“We signed confidentiality agreements, and I can’t disclose any details,” he told the Times-News Friday. The new owner “wants to keep a low profile.”
But Brian Oakey, deputy director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture, identified the new owner as John Glessner.
Glessner once was linked to Austin “Jack” DeCoster, who owns the Iowa egg-production facilities implicated in a salmonella-related recall of more than 500 million eggs in 2010.
The salmonella outbreak caused some retail stores to drop DeCoster products and led to a bitter legal feud between DeCoster and Glessner, who was DeCoster’s longtime top associate, according to news reports.
Previously, Glessner and DeCoster were convicted together of violating immigration law. Glessner ran a firm called Iowa Ag that supplied undocumented workers to DeCoster’s egg factories. DeCoster paid $2 million to settle the case. Glessner was handed a four-month prison sentence and fined $300,000, reports show.
Bettencourt at own time owned 13 dairies in the Magic Valley, employed 465 men and milked 60,000 cows.
Currently, Bettencourt’s website shows, he owns four dairies in Wendell and two in Jerome, but he no longer owns any in Twin Falls County.
Bettencourt said he was sad “in a way” to have sold Dry Creek Dairy, which has operated for about six years. “It took 15 years to put it together.”
After allegations of animal abuse at Dry Creek Dairy surfaced in 2012, Bettencourt expressed disgust by scenes depicted in the video.
He fired the workers involved, tightened security at his dairies and installed cameras.
“We dealt with it,” he said. “But it wasn’t why we sold.”
Rick Onaindia, chief financial officer for Bettencourt Dairies LLC., said Dry Creek Dairy employees are staying.
“There’s not a huge change in the business,” Onaindia said. “The cows won’t know there’s a new owner.”