Legislature approves money for pollution testing on hog farm near Buffalo River | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Legislature approves money for pollution testing on hog farm near Buffalo River

Posted By on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

click to enlarge HOGS NEAR THE BUFFALO: state will fund testing and monitoring - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • HOGS NEAR THE BUFFALO: state will fund testing and monitoring

The legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) joint subcommittee today approved Gov. Mike Beebe’s request for $340,510 to implement pollution testing and monitoring at the C&H Hog Farm in Mt. Judea. The farm has stirred controversy because of its proximity to a major tributary of the Buffalo River. The study will be conducted by water and soil experts at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and paid for out of Rainy Day funds.

Dr. Mark J. Cochran, Vice President for Agriculture at the U of A,  testified that the plan has three major components: 1) monitoring the nutrients and bacteria resulting from the land application of liquid fertilizer (intensive monitoring will be conducted in three of the seventeen application fields), 2) testing the impact of the farm — both the manure holding ponds and the application of liquid fertilizer — on water quality on and around the farm, and 3) research the effectiveness and sustainability of alternative manure management techniques, including the possibility of solid separation and transporting nutrients out of the watershed rather than applying them as fertilizer. You can read the full plan 
PDF here
.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality remains the regulatory agency over the farm, and the U of A researchers will give ADEQ quarterly reports of their findings. ADEQ Director Teresa Marks testified that they would make those findings publicly available. If a problem was found, ADEQ could revise the permit and/or nutrient management plan that the farm is operating under, in which case the farm would then have to adjust their practice to comply. You can see the memorandum of understanding between ADEQ and the U of A
PDF here
.

The C&H farmers are on board with the testing program. What about Cargill, the owner of the hogs and the farm's sole buyer? Their spokesman Mike Martin, always cagey, said, "Cargill does not object to monitoring programs that are based on accepted scientific protocols." He said they had not yet seen the final plan and that it was ultimately the decision of the C&H farmers. 

Cochran testified that a testing program of this kind should typically last at least five years. The $340,510 will cover the first year, including setting up monitoring stations; subsequently, if the legislature approved more funds, the cost would be around $100,000 per year. 

The testing program is likely to leave conservationists concerned about the farm unsatisfied. "They’re spending at least half a million dollars to fix a problem that shouldn't have happened in the first place," Robert Cross, president of the Ozark Society, one of the groups suing federal agencies over their loan guarantee of the farm.

Dr. John Van Brahana, a just-retired University of Arkansas geology professor and an expert in karst geology who has raised concerns about the environmental impact of the farm, attended today's meeting. He said of the testimony on the testing plan, "there was a little more salesmanship than fact." He said that the plan failed to take sufficient account of the karst geology and the movement of groundwater (a frequent complaint from critics of the permit that C&H is operating under) and wouldn't cover a sufficient area to identify potential problems. The plan does not include dye testing to determine water pathways, but Brahana is currently doing his own dye testing, as well as water-quality testing. Many Mt. Judea area residents have allowed Brahana to do testing on their properties. C&H has not. Brahana said that he sent Beebe a summary of his preliminary findings earlier this week. 

Rep. Nate Bell, meanwhile, said that he was confident there would not be problems with phosphorous runoff or other contamination. “If [land application] is done properly, the risk is so small you can’t even quantify it,” he said. “Everything is in place to indicate that it’s been engineered correctly, the hydrology analysis has been done, all of the safeguards are in place. If [C&H] follows the plan that they’ve outlined, I think there’s widespread agreement among scientists that there’s virtually no risk.” Bell, himself a chicken farmer, said that he approved of the testing program in order to protect the interests of  both the public and the farmers. "As a farmer, I welcome this kind of monitoring because it proves that the science-based practices we’re using on the farm work," he said. 

The first quarterly report of the testing program is set to be submitted to ADEQ in January of 2014. 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

More by David Ramsey

  • Abuse again at Arkansas juvenile lockup

    A guard was fired after choking a child at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center. It’s the latest in a long history of mistreatment at the facility.
    • May 26, 2017
  • Health care policy FAQ

    What proposed state and federal changes mean for the future of health care policy in Arkansas.
    • May 25, 2017
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
    • May 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

  • Sunday and another open line

    Got anything for the open line?
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • "a physical attack on Charles Murray" Well, it was probably perpetrated by those at the…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • "Scaramucci has made a fortune" As did Capone, but since the making of oodles of…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • I too saw "Dunkirk" today. As a movie, it was pretty good. As a movie…

    • on July 23, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation