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  • 23 Nov 2013 7:35 PM | Anonymous
    Environment / Health Hog farms linked to infections

    Posted by on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    click to enlargePROBLEM NEIGHBORS: Infection risk higher near hog farms, new research says.
    • PROBLEM NEIGHBORS: Infection risk higher near hog farms, new research says.
    Still more news of interest in Arkansas from USA Today:

    Living near a hog farm or a field fertilized with pig manure significantly increases the risk of being infected with a dangerous superbug, new research finds.

    Two new studies published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine focus on a bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus , or MRSA, which caused more than 80,000 invasive infections in the USA in 2011.

    ...In 2011, for the first time since officials began tracking invasive MRSA infections, more Americans were infected with MRSA in the community than in the hospital, one of the studies shows.

    In the second study, researchers found that exposure to hog manure is related to 11% of MRSA infections, even among people who don't work on farms.


    Hog farming has been in the news in Arkansas because of C and H Farm, the mass feeder pig operation industry giant Cargill is backing in Newton County along a major tributary to the Buffalo National River. Legal fights are underway over the inadequate environmental impact work done before permits were approved for the operation. The Arkansas Farm Bureau has been a leading advocate for the hog farm.

    David Ramsey wrote on manure handling at C and H:

    The controversy centers on the inevitable byproduct of the farm: pig crap. Based on C&H's nutrient management plan (NMP), the facility will generate more than 2 million gallons of manure and wastewater per year. The waste is first collected in 2-foot-deep concrete pits below the animals. Once the shallow pits, diluted with water, are filled, the waste drains into two large man-made storage ponds. Eventually, as the ponds fill, C&H will remove liquid waste and, in an agreement with local landowners, apply it as fertilizer on more than 600 acres of surrounding fields.
  • 23 Nov 2013 7:26 PM | Anonymous
    Arkansas Blog                          

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Environment State can't issue moratorium on hog farm permit

    Posted by on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an opinion today, requested by Rep. David Branscum, that the director of  the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality may not impose a moratorium or suspension of the processing of a permit for a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). 

    So forget that as an option on the hog feeding operation in the Buffalo River watershed. The law doesn't authorize it, McDaniel said.







    Opinion No. 2013-102

    November 13, 2013

    The Honorable David L. Branscum
    State Representative
    Post Office Box 370
    Marshall, Arkansas 72650-0370

    Dear Representative Branscum:

    You have requested my opinion on the following question concerning permitting for a concentrated animal feeding operation:

    Under Arkansas law, may the director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality impose a moratorium or suspension of the processing of a permit for a concentrated animal feeding operation? If the answer is yes, under that circumstances may the director do so?

    RESPONSE

    The answer to this question is “no,” in my opinion. Your second question is consequently moot.

    Some explanation of the permitting process at issue will be helpful before further explaining this response.

    The Federal Water Pollution Control Act,[1] commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), created a federal permitting program – the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) – that requires a permit of any person discharging pollutants into a surface water body.[2] Concentrated, confined animal operations which are covered by Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) regulations defining “concentrated animal feeding operation” (“CAFO”)[3] are subject to the NPDES program.[4] The EPA requires all CAFOs to apply for an individual NPDES permit or submit a notice of intent for coverage under an NPDES general permit.[5] An NPDES permit may be issued by the EPA, but states also are authorized to administer their own NPDES programs.[6] If a state chooses to operate its own permit program, it must first obtain EPA permission and then ensure that it issues discharge permits in accord with the same federal rules that govern permits issued by the EPA.[7]

    EPA and the Arkansas General Assembly have delegated to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (“ADEQ”) the power to issue NPDES permits authorizing pollutant discharges. Pursuant to A.C.A. § 8-4-208(a), “the [ADEQ] is authorized … to administer on behalf of the state its own permit program for discharges into navigable waters within its jurisdiction in lieu of that of the [EPA.]” ADEQ was further granted authority under A.C.A. § 8-4-208(b) to “accept a delegation of authority from the [EPA] under the [CWA] and to exercise and enforce the authority delegated.”

    ADEQ is therefore the NPDES permitting authority in Arkansas.[8] The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission (“Commission”) adopted Regulation No. 6[9] to govern NPDES permitting.[10] Regulation No. 6 incorporates federal regulations governing, inter alia, permit requirements for CAFOs.[11] The federal regulations for CAFOs provide as follows regarding NPDES permit authorization:

    A CAFO must not discharge unless the discharge is authorized by an NPDES permit. In order to obtain authorization under an NPDES permit, the CAFO owner or operator must either apply for an individual NPDES permit or submit a notice of intent for coverage under an NPDES general permit.[12]
    A general permit is issued to categories or classes of dischargers that are susceptible to regulation under common terms and conditions. As explained by one court:

    A general permit is a tool by which EPA regulates a large number of similar dischargers. Under the traditional general permitting model, each general permit identifies the output limitations and technology-based requirements necessary to adequately protect water quality from a class of dischargers. Those dischargers may then acquire permission to discharge under the Clean Water Act by filing [Notices of Intent], which embody each discharger’s agreement to abide by the terms of the general permit.[13]
    Pursuant to Regulation No. 6 and its permitting authority, ADEQ developed a general permit covering CAFOs.[14]

    With this background in mind, I will turn to your particular question concerning a moratorium or suspension. Because you have referred to a “permit for a [CAFO],” I assume you are asking about the general permit noted above, and possibly individual NPDES permits that may be issued to CAFO owners or operators.

    While the Commission is clearly authorized to either declare a moratorium on, or suspend the processing of, a type or category of permit, it appears the Director of ADEQ has not been vested with such authority. The Commission’s authority to this effect is set forth in A.C.A. § 8-4-201, and further reflected in A.C.A. § 8-4-202. Section 8-4-201 addresses the Commission’s powers and duties generally, and provides in relevant part:

    The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission is given and charged with the following powers and duties:
    Promulgation of rules and regulations, including water quality standards and the classification of the waters of the state and moratoriums or suspensions of the processing of types or categories of permits, implementing the substantive statutes charged to the department for administration.
    [15]
    Section 8-4-202 details more specifically the matters that may be addressed by Commission rule or regulation, and includes the following notice requirement and “emergency” authority:
    Before the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any rule or regulation or before suspending the processing of a type or category of permits or the declaration of a moratorium on a type or category of permits, the commission shall give at least thirty (30) days’ notice of its intended action.
    * * *
    If the commission determines that imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare requires immediate change in the rules or immediate suspension or moratorium on categories or types of permits, it may, after documenting the facts and reasons, declare an emergency and implement emergency rules, regulations, suspensions, or moratoria.
    [16]

    I have found no comparable provision in law or regulation that would authorize the Director of ADEQ to declare a moratorium on, or suspend the processing of, a permit for a CAFO.

    I should note that the Director very clearly may revoke or suspend, for cause, a permit under which a CAFO is operating:

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality or its successor is given and charged with the power and duty to revoke, modify, or suspend, in whole or in part, for cause any permit issued under this chapter, including, without limitation:
    (1) Violation of any condition of the permit;
    (2) Obtaining a permit by misrepresentation or failure to disclose fully all relevant facts; or
    (3) A change in any applicable regulation or a change in any preexisting condition affecting the nature of the discharge that requires either a temporary or permanent reduction or elimination of the permitted discharge.[17]
    This authority is plainly distinct, however, from that noted above respecting moratoria or suspensions. Had the General Assembly intended to extend the latter authority to the Director, it could easily have done so.

    In response to your question, therefore, it is my opinion that the Director of ADEQ lacks authority to impose a moratorium on, or suspend the processing of, a permit for a concentrated animal feeding operation.

    Deputy Attorney General Elisabeth A. Walker prepared the foregoing opinion, which I hereby approve.

    Sincerely,



    DUSTIN McDANIEL
    Attorney General
  • 18 Nov 2013 9:42 PM | Anonymous

    Farm Bill Could Hide Farm Locations From Public

    WASHINGTON November 7, 2013 (AP)

    By MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

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    Parts of the nation's $500 billion farm bill that Congress is considering would prohibit the government from disclosing some information about farmers or their employees, possibly preventing people from learning about nearby agricultural and large-scale livestock operations blamed for polluting water or soil.

    The secrecy effort arose after the Environmental Protection Agency said it had mistakenly released names, email addresses, phone numbers and other personal information about some farmers and employees twice this year under the Freedom of Information Act. The EPA later determined it should not have released the information; in at least one case, an environmental group that received the data agreed to return it.

    The provisions in the farm bill were intended to protect farmers who fear they would be targeted by animal advocacy groups.

    The House version, now part of negotiations with the Senate, would prevent the EPA from disclosing the addresses, among other identifying information, of an owner, operator or employee of an agricultural operation. Other federal agencies could not release such information.

    Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, blocked a Senate amendment similar to the House proposal.

    "We must take care not to draw a veil of secrecy around important information about threats to the public's health and safety or government accountability," Leahy said.

    Journalists and open government groups that want Congress to remove the proposals say federal law already bars the release of most personal information and the provisions are too broad.

    "Members of the public have a right to know about agricultural and livestock operations that affect them, including where such operations are located," a coalition of 43 groups, including Society for Professional Journalists, Sunlight Foundation and Openthegovernment.org said in a letter Wednesday to House and Senate farm bill negotiators. "This information is especially critical for people who live near or share waterways with concentrated animal feeding operations."

    Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., who wrote one of the proposals, said many farmers and ranchers live on their farms, so releasing corporate addresses of their companies is the same as releasing their home addresses. Crawford said farmers and ranchers should be able to provide personal information securely to the Agriculture Department, but they believe that environmental activist groups could obtain the material if it were shared with the EPA.

    "Activist groups should not be able to leverage their relationship with the EPA to get this information that could pose a threat," Crawford said.

    Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association cited cases of people trashing farmers' property.

    "There are more and more folks on the activist side that don't like what we do, and we want to protect our members," Woodall said.

    An attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Jon Devine, one of the groups that received the personal information about some farmers, said his group wasn't interested in such details and returned the information when the EPA asked for it. He said the farm bill would go well beyond limiting such personal information and could jeopardize groups from getting facts they say they need, including the locations of farms. Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group said he worried that the provisions could interfere with his group's ability to compile information about farm subsidies distributed every year, which the farm industry complains about. It's unclear whether the House language could be interpreted to restrict information about subsidies, he said.

  • 17 Nov 2013 7:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    [See the second half f the following story]

    That ‘Bebee’ blunder

    Mike Masterson


    This unanticipated “ouchie” literally did leave a mark the other day at the unveiling of that magnificent, 15,000-pound sandstone monument leading to the new U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith.
    Although the mistake has been repaired, the onlookers had to have gasped, perhaps even chortled, to see Governor Beeebe’s … hmm … better make that Bebe’s, er, Bebee’s, no, no … Gov. Mike Beebe’s name prominently misspelled as “Bebee” in the etched stone.
    Gosh knows, I’ve nary a flamingo’s leg to stand on when it comes to errors in my own attempts at writing this personal opinion column. I have plenty of examples of “uh-ohs” over 43 years. Thankfully, I formerly had Meredith Oakley to keep me in line and today have editor Brenda Looper of the Voices page to hold mine to a minimum.
    This embarrassing oversight made headlines of its own with a news story by ace reporter Bill Bowden. And I’ve just gotta say it’s remarkable to me that someone didn’t catch the governor’s misspelled name well before the unveiling ceremony.
    But the stone sat placed and covered for a couple of days before its big day, so I can see how it’s reasonable that no one caught the error until, gasp, that moment when it was revealed to the state.
    Yet have no fear. Just like repairing mistakes on a computer, the Beebe blunder was sandblasted and repaired. And the many thousands of future visitors who didn’t read Bowden’s story (or today’s column way back in November of 2013) will never know the governor’s surname once was spelled “Bebee” on the handsome marker dedicated to the Marshals Service and the 225 souls who lost their lives in service to that hallowed agency.

    Times for hogs

    The New York Times has taken interest in the ongoing battle over that hog factory permitted in the Buffalo National River watershed.
    Veteran correspondent John Eligon from the paper’s Kansas City bureau arrived in the Ozarks last week to conduct interviews and experience the magnificent beauty of this river for the first time. We chatted a while beforehand and I felt good when we hung up that he’d do this national story justice on behalf of the people of Arkansas and the nation.
    Although the Times has published stories on health and environmental pitfalls associated with factory animal operations such as the one permitted by our state for up to 6,500 swine at Mount Judea, I believe Eligon will present his news story correctly and fairly.
    But I also suspect that if his take on this is that there are many questions over the way the state approved it and the potential for contamination it presents is real, then correspondent Eligon also will be wrongly accused of being anti-farmer and against hog farms. That’s become the preferred argument: the crimson oinker (as opposed to the infamous red herring).
    I can already hear the predictable refrain the factory’s supplier and buyer Cargill Inc. and the factory’s local family of operators might offer: “It’s those anti-farmers and radical environmental alarmists upset over this good, beleaguered family farm that jumped through every hoop the state demanded of them to acquire their permit. Why, this farm won’t ever contaminate the Buffalo! That kind of talk is just more ignorant fearmongering.”
    This reporter seems pretty sharp to me. I believe he’ll quickly see that no one who’s opposed to this hog farm is the slightest bit anti-farmer or even that radical, except toward protecting a sacred national treasure. They simply believe, as do I (a loudmouthed non-radical) that this is the worst possible location for Arkansas’ first mega-waste-generating hog factory approved to operate under the state’s new general permit.
    And I truly mean the bar-none, absolute worst location.
    The people most concerned about this location range from geoscientists to former governors and federal officials to those who enjoy this magical stream. Thanks to the recent Waterkeepers seven-city Arkansas tour, hundreds of citizens have been educated firsthand about the devastation that massive corporate hog operations like this one have wrought in the once-pristine rivers of other states such as North Carolina, not to mention steadily eliminating traditional family farms.
    I also believe Eligon will see what so many others have in questioning what appears to be preferential, streamlined treatment by the state in permitting this factory. The deed was done in a few months, without requiring Cargill or the factory owners to conduct advance tests to see how water flows through the subsurface karst or to do baseline water-quality studies.
    Good grief, my friends, even the director of the state’s permitting agency, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (cough) says she didn’t know the factory had been permitted until after the fact; neither did the staff of the agency’s local office in nearby Jasper. Say what?
    Anyway, welcome to Arkansas, correspondent Eligon. Enjoy the incredible majesty of the country’s first National River and all the good folks of our state.
    —–––––
    • –––––—
    Mike Masterson’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at mikemasterson10@hotmail.com. Read his blog at mikemastersonsmessenger.com.

  • 17 Nov 2013 7:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Be a Good Steward of the Land, Air and Water
    A response to Jerry McMasters’ Arkansas Pork Producers:

    Anyone concerned about water and air quality does not locate a hog production facility that produces two million gallons of untreated hog sewage waste to be spread on fields next to a major tributary of the pristine Buffalo National River, not to mention next to a school. The odors produced represent chemicals in the air that are not only unpleasant, but harmful to human health.

    The truth is that the waste ponds and spray field system used by C&H Hog Farms, the Cargill contractor/hog producer, was such an environmental hazard in North Carolina that it has been banned for new and expanded facilities by the legislature in North Carolina. That system should not be allowed in the Natural State.

    Nothing like a 6,500 hog (2,000 sow, 4,500 weaner pigs) production facility should be called a “fam! ily farm.” The facility is owned by a corporation. The hogs are owned by Cargill, fed with Cargill feed and will go out of the barns to other Cargill facilities. C&H is part of an integrated Big Ag operation.

    C&H’s waste management plan admits leakage of the waste ponds. The untreated hog waste will be spread on lands adjacent to Big Creek, many of which admittedly flood frequently. The waste ponds already smell strongly. The smell is confirmation that hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and other toxic fumes are coming from the production facilities and off of the waste ponds. The leakage and odors are not a “what if” scenario.

    The informational programs presented by the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, a non-profit made up of local folks concerned for the river, made it clear that the Alliance was not against family farms, but in fact supported the same. Mega-large corporations like Cargill in fact diminish the family farms. The number of hog farmers in ! this country has decreased, but the number of hogs produced is basically the same. Bigger is killing the family farmer.

    The Buffalo River is one of the victims, but so are local residents, Mount Judea’s school, the neighboring town and people who want to use the Buffalo River. Measures should be taken now to protect the water, soil and air quality of Arkansas. Mr. McMasters, VP of Arkansas Pork Producers, apparently does not see the difference in treated versus untreated sewage. Mr. McMaster’s comments are disingenuous.

    By sitting its industrial facility on karst terrain and along the banks of Big Creek, C&H and Cargill have demonstrated that they are not good stewards of our land, air and water.

    Arkansas Farm Bureau, the State of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas and environmental groups, along with the Arkansas Legislature, should step up and uphold a mission of good stewardship. We in Arkansas need to take steps to undo this error, now! Before t! he “what ifs” become worse.

    Michael E. Kelly, Board Member of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance
  • 05 Nov 2013 4:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    [NOTE: See the News posting "Give Pork's Flak Man a Bonus - Mike Masterson" to read the response to The Jerry Masters Op-Ed included in this article]

    http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2013/10/25/pork-producers-suggest-more-danger-to-buffalo-river-from-people-than-pigs


    Pork producers suggest more danger to Buffalo River from people than pigs
    Posted by Max Brantley on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 1:35 PM
     
     
    CAUTION: People use the Buffalo River and they're more damaging than pigs, the Arkansas Pork Producers say.

    The campaign against a mass hog feeding operation in the Buffalo National River watershed is generating enough heat that the agricultural industry is fighting back.

    On the jump, find an opinion article written under the name of an Arkansas Pork Producers Association executive. It defends the Cargill-supplied mass feeder pig operation at Mount Judea, along a Buffalo tributary. Themes: Pig farmers love the Buffalo River. They're trying to preserve a dying industry. Fears of contamination from the tons of pig manure produced by the operation are based on "extraordinarily unlikely what if" scenarios.

    The pork producers propound that the immediate pollution problem is not pig poop but people poop. Yes, people.

    See, the National Park Service puts treated waste on cropland and into the river under permit. 1.5 million visitors put bacteria in the water.

    Until the resources being spent by activists are redirected to mitigate actual Buffalo River pollution, not imagined pollution based on speculation and fear mongering, their efforts are as disingenuous as any accusations they apply to others.

    If you don't believe the Pork Producers, just ask the Farm Bureau or owners of C&H Hog Farm. They'll straighten you out.

    The opinion piece was distributed from a personal e-mail account. The name on the account is the same as that of someone who once worked for a Little Rock PR firm employee, but I haven't heard back yet from the sender about her employer; who's paying for distribution, and whether the named author had help in the writing.

    UPDATE: Caitlin Berry, an employee of Heathcott Associates, a PR firm, confirms she circulated the piece as "volunteer" work for the pork producers because her agency works with agriculture agencies in doing promotional work for the State Fair. She said Masters gave it to her to distribute.


    Attached is an opinion editorial from Mr. Jerry Masters, Executive Vice-President of Arkansas Pork Producers Association, regarding C & H Hog Farms from northwest Arkansas. Mr. Masters' letter was prepared as an answer to the latest attacks from out-of-state special interests groups that have recently targeted C & H and their legal farming operation.

    Buffalo River Opinion-Editorial

    Nobody wants to see the water quality of the Buffalo River adversely impacted. That list includes farmers, agribusiness companies, and other ag-related associations, as well as the State of Arkansas. Arkansans wouldn’t know that from reading recent weekly newspaper columns or listening to the information being disseminated by those who oppose a swine farm that was built earlier this year in Newton County, C&H Hog Farm. C & H followed all the appropriate government permit approvals that are in place.

    The expansion took place in a rural area of Northwest Arkansas that has been involved in crop, hog, poultry and beef cattle production for generations – long before the Buffalo River received its national designation half-a-century-ago. Poultry barns, cattle herds and hog farms remain part of the area’s economy, and part of the state’s $16 billion annual economic benefit from agriculture. Agriculture remains a key component of the Arkansas economy. However in recent years, hog production has left Arkansas. For example, today there are 85% fewer hogs produced in Arkansas than a decade ago.

    Since last winter, when the superintendent of the Buffalo National River complained about the permitting process used by the State of Arkansas to allow the family owned farm in Newton County to expand hog production, some individuals and environmental organizations have expressed concerns. Those concerns, at times reaching a fever pitch, are based on an extraordinarily unlikely “what if” scenario whereby hog manure gets loose from the thick clay walls of the farm’s over-engineered storage lagoons built to 150% of state-mandated capacity.

    The flames of fear have been fanned and exploited by some who have expressed opposition to state government, agriculture, and large scale food production. They have attacked the farmers’ motives (making a living by hog farming); assailed the values, ethics, morals and intent of the company buying the farm’s hogs (Cargill); and have tried to generate opposition by comparing the Newton County farm with large scale hog production in other states.

    The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance has been founded specifically with the mission to shut down this farm. Activists from New York, California, North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma and other states have aligned themselves with efforts to purge this family farm from Newton County. Now, a New York based group called Waterkeepers is travelling around Arkansas trying to convince people that hog waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) will lead to inevitable environmental catastrophe. Earlier this year, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette nailed this type of activity on the head by labeling it “Environmental McCarthyism.”

    Yes, the hog farm with its 2,500 sows is designated a “CAFO” by the State of Arkansas. It’s the first designated CAFO in Arkansas. It’s the largest designated CAFO in Arkansas. It’s also the smallest and only CAFO in Arkansas. Those opposed to the farm would have Arkansans believe the door has been opened and there will be a stampede of CAFOs into the state that leaves a swath of devastation. Instead, the sad fact is that 85% of the hog production has fled Arkansas over the past decade and it isn’t coming back.

    The river itself is a victim of sorts in this debate. If it could talk, the Buffalo River would probably say the following:

    Let’s fix the things currently impacting my water quality;

    Stop dumping treated human sewage from the National Park Service restrooms into my water (National Park Service is the permittee);
    Please fix or replace the leaky septic tanks in the watershed;

    Don’t complain about the C&H Farm spreading hog waste on hayfields when the National Park Service spreads treated human waste on croplands in the Buffalo River Watershed (National Park Service is the permittee);

    1.5 million human visitors each year introduce a lot of bacteria to my water, so let’s not ignore that impact;

    While we’re at it, do we still need those National Park Service signs along the river that warn people about polluted water and high bacteria counts from the yearlong raw sewage spill by the town of Jasper in 2009?

    Until the resources being spent by activists are redirected to mitigate actual Buffalo River pollution, not imagined pollution based on speculation and fear mongering, their efforts are as disingenuous as any accusations they apply to others. The Arkansas Farm Bureau, C&H Hog Farm, the State of Arkansas, The University of Arkansas, The Nature Conservancy, Cargill and others truly interested in the long-term stewardship of the area’s nature resources, prefer to work on solutions — which they are doing — and not to attack others.

    -Jerry Masters

  • 05 Nov 2013 4:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    http://www.porknetwork.com/pork-news/latest/Activists-speak-against-Ark-pork-operation-230701351.html

    Activists speak against Ark. pork operation
    JoAnn Alumbaugh, Editor, Pork Network | Updated: 11/05/2013
     
    According to an article in the Arkansas Dem-Gazette, two activists spoke to an audience in Little Rock, Ark., last week claiming large livestock farms have damaged rivers, fish and ecology-based tourism in North Carolina.
    The meeting was hosted by the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, a group opposed to a pork operation that opened in March near the Buffalo National River. C&H Hog Farms in Newton County, Ark., is the first pork operation in Arkansas to receive a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for water discharge from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance wants the permit to be revoked.
    The news article, by Emily Walkenhorst, said Little Rock was the last location of the “whistle-stop tour” of northern and central Arkansas by the alliance.
    The two speakers, Rick Dove and Larry Baldwin, were from the international group, Waterkeeper Alliance. According to the article, they said “untreated animal waste used as fertilizer has found its way via runoff and air dispersal into streams and rivers in eastern North Carolina, where most of the states’ hog farms are located.”
    Baldwin and Dove said the rocky terrain of the land near the river - called karst - allows water to easily run through cracks in the ground. Hog-farm opponents say livestock nutrient waste will filter into the karst and be channeled to the waterways. They want C&H Farms to build a wastewater treatment plant “to eliminate some of the environmental concerns.”
    Comments were not rebutted by either the farm owner or representatives from Cargill, which will market the pigs produced at C&H Farms.
    The Buffalo River group is also a party to two lawsuits against the federal Farm Services Agency and the Small Business Administration, claiming they were negligent in providing loan guarantees in the construction of C&H Hog Farms.

  • 05 Nov 2013 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    [NOTE: See the News posting "Pork producers suggest more danger to Buffalo River from people than pigs" to read the Jerry Masters' Op-Ed referred to in this article.]


     
    I don't know how much Jerry Masters is compensated as executive vice president of the politically active Arkansas Pork Producers Association, but the man ought get a big ol' pork barrel bonus for his latest PR effort.

    For those who missed it, Masters’ pro-pork squeal in last Saturday’s paper referred to me indirectly and all those who’ve been vocal about the very real possibility of the C&H hog factory contaminating the Buffalo National River as an exploitative “fear mongering” and “disingenuous” lot.

    In his rant against those with concerns over the enormous amounts of hog waste generated by C&H Hog Farms in Mount Judea, Masters refers to the original complaint filed by the superintendent of the Buffalo National River about “the family-owned farm” wanting to expand. In his promotional zeal,Masters tried his darnedest to make it appear this is just some farmers wanting a much bigger hog farm than they’ve been managing for years.

    Not mentioned is the fact that this enormous hog factory was wrongheadedly permitted last year by our state’s Department of Environmental Quality (cough) atop karst-riddled ground in the state’s worst possible environmental location. The location (not a hog farm)always has been the problem for me and many others. Trying to make it appear otherwise is, using Masters’ own word, disingenuous. The present site also is miles closer to the Buffalo than where this family had been operating its much smaller family hog farm.

    The pork spokesman really slathers on the hyperbole where he chastises opponents: “The flames of fear have been fanned and exploited by some who have expressed opposition to state government, agriculture, and large-scale food production. They have attacked the farmers’ motives (making a living by hog farming); assailed the values, ethics, morals and intent of the company buying the farm’s hogs (Cargill); and have tried to generate opposition by comparing the Newton County farm with large-scale hog production in other states.”
    Masters blisters all who’ve dared question the irregular way this hog factory was permitted without knowledge of the National Park Service, the Department of Environmental Quality’s own director and that agency’s office in Jasper. Yet he doesn’t address that relevant fact.
    I realize Masters earns his living as the state’s foremost pork promoter. His essay even reads like a corporate PR release.

    I also saw no coincidence that it was published on the heels of the Buffalo River Waterkeepers week-long speaking tour of seven Arkansas cities. At those sessions, four experts warned of the severe damage that waste from hog factories inflicted on the once-clear streams of other states (primarily North Carolina). They’d come to warn Arkansas that more stringent laws and advanced methods should be required here to prevent similar catastrophes, particularly in the country’s first national river.

    Thanks to them and a salute to the Waterkeepers for bringing such knowledgeable people to Arkansas to share their experience with this serious national problem.
    Masters notes: “Until the resources being spent by activists are redirected to mitigate actual Buffalo River pollution, not imagined pollution based on speculation and fear mongering, their efforts are as disingenuous as any accusations they apply to others.”
    I don’t know anyone against hogs or farmers, although the entire notion of utilizing these concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)is under scrutiny nationally on humane and environmental grounds. You can quickly educate yourself with a recommended Internet check on hog CAFOs. To accuse concerned citizens of being anti-farmer is a ruse, a bright crimson oinker (as opposed to a red herring).

    As with many others, I see neither need nor justification for our state placing this precious national river at risk of contamination from the daily waste generated by swine whose waste will be regularly siphoned from massive cesspools and spread across the fields surrounding Big Creek, which feeds into the Buffalo.

    I also understand why folks from across our nation who’ve seen the quality of their state’s rivers destroyed by waste from hog factories would be concerned and cautionary about contaminating the Buffalo since it is, after all, designated as the country’s first national river. Accordingly, the responsibility for stewardship belongs to every American.
    I do agree with Masters that any past or ongoing contamination of the Buffalo also needs to be halted permanently, whatever that requires.

    There are many who don’t derive a sense of purpose or earn our living from the pork producing industry who disagree with Mr. Masters’ special-interest analysis of one mountain family’s “farm” permitted in the Buffalo National River’s watershed being attacked by a bunch of “disingenuous,” exploitative citizens.

    Besides all that, I enjoy crispy bacon.

Buffalo River Watershed Alliance is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization

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