Moratorium on hog farm permits renewed
By John Lyon
Arkansas News Bureau
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission voted Friday to approve a third 180-day moratorium on issuing hog farm permits in the Buffalo River watershed.
A motion to approve the moratorium carried in a voice vote with no “no” votes heard. The action came two days after Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement expressing support for a new moratorium.
The previous moratorium expired earlier this week. Hutchinson said Wednesday that putting another 180-day hold on permits would allow time for the rulemaking process to be completed.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Ozark Society are pursuing a change to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality rules that would permanently ban permits for medium and large hog farms in the watershed.
Hutchinson also said Wednesday he favors a five-year sunset on the rulemaking, to allow time for the University of Arkansas to complete a study to determine what impact C&H Hog Farms in Mount Judea has had on the watershed.
A permanent ban would not affect C&H but would bar other similarly sized hog farms from being established in the watershed.
Several people spoke in support of the moratorium during Friday’s commission meeting at ADEQ’s North Little Rock headquarters. No one spoke in opposition.
“Over the last 19 days, living 8 miles away, I have smelled C&H Hog Farms at my home,” said Carol Betting. “I live on the Little Buffalo. I live below that emergent layer that traps the odor in the valley. It’s not pleasant.”
Betting said that if she can smell the hog farm from where she lives, “you can’t even imagine what it feels like for those people in Mount Judea.”
Lin Wellford of Green Forest told the commission, “I’ve got grandkids, and I hope to have great-grandkids, and I hope someday they’ll get to enjoy the rivers that I got to enjoy. So that’s why I’m here — I’m standing up for the next generation.”
Commissioner Joseph Bates asked whether ADEQ’s staff had noticed odors in the area.
ADEQ Deputy Director Ryan Benefield answered, “Odor is a tough thing for the department to regulate, because each of us, if we went out there, would have a different odor threshold. But we haven’t found an unacceptable odor in many responses to complaints.”