Justice Department drops appeal of Buffalo River hog farm ruling | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 24, 2015

Justice Department drops appeal of Buffalo River hog farm ruling

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 1:57 PM

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Earth Justice announces that the federal Justice Department has dropped the appeal of a court ruling that federal agencies had failed to do sufficient environmental assessments before providing federal loan guarantees for the C and H Hog Farm at Mount Judea in the Buffalo River watershed.

The decisions means new environmental assessments must be done in a year.

Those assessments could be critical in determining continuation of the loan guarantees and, potentially, the operating of the 6,500-swine feeding operation, underwritten by Cargill, the agriculture giant. The controversy over that operation — approved with little notice before much opposition could be mounted — has led to a state moratorium, renewed today, on other hog feeding operations in the watershed of the national river, a prime tourism destination in Arkansas.

This is Judge Price Marshall's earlier decision to suspend the loan guarantees. He said the government could place conditions on continuation of the guarantees that would better assure environmental protection.

The news release:

The U.S. Department of Justice has decided to drop its challenge of a federal court ruling that enjoined more than $3 million in loan guarantees to an industrial hog farm in the Buffalo National River Watershed in the Arkansas Ozarks.

On December 2, 2014, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas D. Price Marshall ruled that the guarantees by the Farm Service Agency and Small Business Administration were issued without an adequate environmental assessment and violated both the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Today, the federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in Arkansas today granted a motion filed by the Department of Justice to withdraw and voluntarily dismiss the department’s appeal of the judgment.

The loan guarantees were made to C & H Hog Farms in Mt. Judea, AR. Now the two federal agencies must now go back and conduct new assessments within one year.

“This outcome sends a strong message that federal agencies that are subsidizing and supporting industrial-sized concentrated animal feeding operations through loans and guarantees will have to follow NEPA and the ESA in the future,” said Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engelman Lado, who represents a coalition of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, Arkansas Canoe Club, National Parks Conservation Association and the Ozark Society.

“This is a truly significant victory, but the fight to remove C & H Hog Farms from the Buffalo River watershed goes on,” said Dane Schumacher, Buffalo River Watershed Alliance Board member. “We continue to monitor signs for bacterial content that filters into Big Creek and ultimately the Buffalo National River. Much damage could be done if C & H continues to operate in the watershed, and we intend to keep up the pressure to ensure that this ill-placed industrial hog facility never has the chance to foul Arkansas’ crown jewel and America’s first national river.”

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