Fayetteville City Council votes to oppose Senate animal farm bill

Hog waste is captured and then moved to a nearby settling pond where it’s broken down and later used as a fertilizer.

Photo: C&H Hog Farm, YouTube

The Fayetteville City Council on Tuesday voiced its opposition to a proposed Senate bill that would change the way animal farm permits are handled in Arkansas.

The council voted 6-0 to support a resolution to oppose Senate Bill 550, which would transfer regulation of farm permits from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

The bill was filed by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch). Supporters say it would make the permitting process more efficient by moving farm permit approvals to one single state agency.

Opponents say it’s a response to last year’s controversial permit application for C&H Hog Farms in Newton County, which was denied by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

Both the Central Arkansas Water District and the Beaver Water District have issued statements against the bill, partly because it would eliminate the current public notification requirements, but also because the groups say animal farms would operate in a “much more permissive environment,” and the prospect of liquid waste entering the water reservoirs would become a greater threat.

Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams said Council member Teresa Turk requested that the resolution be drafted and presented at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Turk said the lack of monitoring and oversight in the bill is cause for major concern when it comes to water quality.

Mayor Jordan said the bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation he’s seen in a while.

“There are two things I know,” said Jordan. “If you want to protect the environment, then you need to take care of your water and you need to take care of your air, and this bill is a fly in the face of both of those things.”

» Read Senate Bill 550

» Read the Central Arkansas Water District’s statement

» Read the Beaver Water District’s statement

» Read the Fayetteville City Council resolution to oppose SB550