Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hogs vs. scenery and clean water on the Buffalo National River

Posted By on Sat, Dec 28, 2013 at 7:42 AM

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Jason Henson's C and H Hog Farm in Mount Judea is the subject of New York Times article today.
  • IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Jason Henson's C and H Hog Farm in Mount Judea is the subject of New York Times article today.

Several readers last night sent along links to a report in the New York Times today on the hog feeding operation in Newton County close by a major tributary of the Buffalo River.

That's a familiar topic here. Here's the Times' setup grafs:

For environmentalists, the development of the Mount Judea (pronounced Judy) hog farm provides a stark example of what they see as lax oversight of such farms by state and federal regulators. Many of them were dismayed last year, for instance, when the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew proposed regulations that would have required all concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to submit “basic operational information” and would have increased the number of such farms that require permits.

But C&H Hog Farms has many supporters, who say that these farms have long dotted the watershed without causing major environmental damage. They argue that the owners of C&H followed all the required steps to obtain a permit and will do all they can to make sure that the farm does not hurt the ecosystem.


I can't help but note that agri behemoth Cargill does the talking for the hog farmers, otherwise generally depicted in Arkansas as fine local folks just working to make a living, rather than jcontracted enablers for a global corporate giant.

Old-timers familiar with raising livestock and coping with their waste are quoted as being unconcerned, even if they acknowledge a certain odor from the operation. But the article also notes:

This, however, is unlike any other hog operation in the area. With just over 2,500 sows — producing thousands of piglets — C&H has more of them than all of the other hog farms now operating in the Buffalo River watershed combined.

Cargill puts concerns down to "what-if" questions. True enough. But ifs have come true in other places. The state's chief environmental regulator closes the article on a sanguine note.

Teresa Marks, the director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said that while the public should have been better notified about the operation before approval, she had enough confidence in the environmental integrity of the project that it would not have affected the ultimate outcome.

“Will there be some of this waste that could reach the Buffalo River? Sure,” she said. “Will it cause an environmental problem? No, we don’t think there’s going to be any environmental harm caused.”

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