A misleading Facebook post led several Las Cruces, New Mexico residents into a rancher’s field and looting his cattle feed. A giant onion pile the rancher had acquired as a cheap supplement for his herd wasn’t up for grabs, but that didn’t stop locals from taking the vegetables.
According to Las Cruces Sun News, James Montoya had received the culled onions from Barker Produce after they didn’t meet grade requirements of a nearby onion packing plant. After a particularly dry season, Montoya was planning on adding the onions to his wheat, hay, and oats to feed his 137 head herd.
But after someone posted on Facebook about the onion oasis in the desert, the public pounced on the pile — some even hauling away pickup loads and leaving behind trash and beer bottles. Since the frenzy, Montoya has moved the rest of the pile to an undisclosed location on his property for the cattle.
According to the University of Idaho, the onion industry needs to safely dispose of 40,000 to 100,000 tons of cull onions each year. Primary disposal methods include land application, feeding to livestock, and burial. The proportion of cull onions that is applied to land and fed to livestock is limited (generally less than 40 percent), due to transportation costs and livestock availability.