Proposed hog farm near Buffalo River raises pollution concerns

Tyler Bend, Buffalo River

Photo: J. Stephen Conn, Flickr / C.C. 2.0

An industrial hog farm recently approved to be built along a tributary of the Buffalo National River has several Arkansans concerned that waste generated by the farm will eventually make its way into the river.

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality recently approved a permit for C&H Farms to operate the 670-acre farm on the banks of Big Creek near Mount Judea.

The farm is permitted to hold as many as 6,500 hogs, notes the Associated Press. The farm will generate about 2 million gallons of waste annually, and the plan is to dispose of the liquid waste by spraying it onto 640 acres of surrounding grassland.

The decision has sparked opposition around the state in the form of an online petition, which had over 6,000 supporters as of Thursday morning. Concerned citizens have also started the Keep The Buffalo National River Clean and Pristine Facebook page.

From the petition:

The Buffalo National River is America’s First National River, with over 1 million visitors annually who expect and deserve to swim, fish, paddle, and play in the clean and pristine river waters free from factory hog farming! By protecting Big Creek, a critical and immediate tributary of the Buffalo National River from factory hog farming, the legacy of America’s First National River will remain a source of pride for the people and stewards of the National Park Service, the Great State of Arkansas, and all Americans for generations of visitors to come.

Letter from NPS to USDA.

Source: BRWA

The Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce also opposes the project based on concerns that potential damage to the river could threaten the $38 million in tourism dollars annually generated by visitors to the river.

The issue could be discussed on Friday, March 22 by the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, which is the state’s environmental policymaking body.

Stan Jorgensen, chair of the commission, told a reporter from the Associated Press he wasn’t sure if the commission was in a position to affect past permit decisions, but that the permit would likely be discussed on Friday.

“Usually, if things are in the media, there’s a good chance they’ll come up at the commission meeting,” Jorgensen told the AP.

The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission will meet at 9 a.m. Friday at 5301 North Shore Drive in North Little Rock.

More: Springfield News-Leader, Courier News, KHOZ, Arkansas Times