Buffalo River Hog Farms Put On Hold For Another 180 Days
NEWTON COUNTY (KFSM) — The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission met Friday morning (April 24) and enacted a renewed 180-day ban on permitting new medium or large animal feeding operations in the Buffalo River Watershed.
This was the third time the Commission has voted to place a temporary ban on any new industrial hog operations in the Buffalo River Watershed.
“Today’s decision will prevent additional hog farms from opening in the watershed for another 180 days while we continue to work on rulemaking that will protect the Buffalo River for the long term,” said Barry Haas of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel Board.
Haas added, “We are thankful that Governor Hutchinson supports protections for The Buffalo National River, the crown jewel of Arkansas’ natural heritage and an economic engine.”
The rulemaking has garnered wide public support. More than 2,000 public comments were submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality during the comment period. However, the Legislature has yet to grant approval of the rulemaking to move forward. Legislative Committees met in September and December of 2014 to review proposed changes, but did not grant review or issue approval of the changes. Governor Hutchinson released a statement last week in support of continuing the ban while the rulemaking is still in progress.
The rulemaking does not affect the one operating industrial hog farm in the Buffalo River Watershed, C&H Hog Farm. The Public Policy Panel Board says that they trust that the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission along with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality will invest the resources to monitor C&H closely and hold them to the highest accountability permissible by law should they violate conditions of their permit.
The proposed rule changes would protect the area surrounding the first National River from threats to public health, water quality and economic destruction that would be posed by citing numerous industrial hog operations.
In 2012, tourism in Arkansas accounted for a $5.76 billion positive economic impact and employed 58,452 people. The Buffalo River attracted 1,093,083 visitors who spend $43.78 million in communities surrounding the river.