By Emily Walkenhorst
This article was published February 17, 2015 at 2:42 a.m.
Agencies appeal ruling on hog farm
The federal agencies that backed loans made to C&H Hog Farms in Newton County formally filed an appeal in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday against a judgment that suspended those loan guarantees.
Environmental groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency and the Small Business Administration in August 2013, arguing that the latter two agencies failed to properly consult with other agencies, including the National Park Service, in conducting an environmental assessment of the farm while considering the loan guarantees.
The environmental assessment carried a "finding of no significant impact."
In October, U.S District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. ruled that the assessment was insufficient and violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Farm Service Agency had agreed to back $3.4 million in private loans made to C&H Hog Farms in Mount Judea after the farm was found to have insufficient collateral, meaning that the agencies would foot the bill for the farm's loans if the farm defaulted.
The agencies have not made any payments on the loans.
C&H Hog Farms is on Big Creek, 6 miles from where it meets the Buffalo National River. Environmental activists and others have been concerned about the amount of animal waste generated in the environmentally sensitive area.
Attorneys for the agencies filed a notice of appeal in federal court Jan. 30. Wednesday's filings included a schedule and rules for the appeal process.