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  • 02 Oct 2013 6:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Hogs, karst and the Buffalo

    By Mike Masterson

    Arkansas geoscientist John Van Brahana plans on taking to the pulpit tonight in Fayetteville. His sermon (of sorts) about being stewards who supposedly protect God’s Country begins promptly at 7.

    He’ll be disclosing and discussing the early results of water-quality testing that he and his team have been conducting in the Buffalo National River watershed around the C&H hog factory.

    That’s the Cargill Inc.-supplied and supported facility our state so wrongheadedly (and quietly) permitted last year that allowed 6,500 hogs and piglets in the state’s most environmentally sensitive region.

    The respected professor emeritus who for months has supervised these studies without financial (or moral) support from the state or any environmental agency has thus far unearthed a lot more concerns than surprises.

    This evening’s public meeting at Fayetteville’s First United Presbyterian Church should prove enlightening.

    “This basin has the hydrogeology we had feared,” Brahana told me the other day. The cracked limestone karst formations are well-developed with caves, springs, streams and a close relationship with surface and groundwater throughout most of the surface drainage, Brahana said.

    “This means any hog waste not contained in the [two] clay-lined pits will be transported down gradient to Big Creek and the Buffalo National River,” he said. Those pits are projected to contain as much as two million gallons of hog waste. That waste will be removed and spread on application fields around Mount Judea, some very near Big Creek.

    Brahana, who retired from the University of Arkansas this May, began his career in 1962 as an undergraduate lab assistant with the Illinois Geological Survey. He arrived at UA in 1990 when he worked equally for the U.S. Geological Survey and the university. He soon was hired by the university as a full professor with tenure. I believe no one understands the nature and problems associated with karst formations better than Brahana.

    Tonight I expect him to describe the large subterranean voids and wide openings that he and his team of volunteers have discovered in the Big Creek basin. He also will detail the overall quality of the groundwater they’ve discovered thus far. My understanding is that the enormous range of microbes they’ve found flowing from the many springs shows there’s very little, if any, filtration of contaminants.

    I know they’ve discovered the water quality from previous and current human activities, such as septic systems, fertilizing fields with cattle and poultry waste, have had an impact on the overall water quality across thebasin. The results of this create “legacy occurrences” downstream, thereby altering algae growth. They have found similar results in cave streams.

    Brahana’s team has yet to complete dye tracings in the underground springs and streams to specifically define the “point-to-point pathways” the waters regularly follow. However, because the science is consistent, he already understands he’s dealing with a “fairly shallow, fast-flow groundwater system that can be easily contaminated.”

    None of the wells and springs Brahana’s tested thus far show indications that hog waste has reached the Mount Judea area’s domestic water supplies. “Local landowners and farmers have been remarkably helpful and polite,” Brahana has said. “They obviously have concerns and fears.”

    During tonight’s videotaped presentation, Brahana also will answer questions. He hopes to broaden the discussion to educating the audience on how concentrated animal feeding operations have seriously contaminated water in other states.

    This man of science (whose test results are being voluntarily analyzed by labs in Fayetteville and Arkadelphia) and those working alongside him clearly walk the walk of deeper convictions, preferring unvarnished truth to insincere, namby-pamby political correctness.

    Here’s what Brahana told me about CAFO reality: “CAFOS elsewhere have a long history of obfuscation, ignoring rules and claiming they are not ‘free to farm,’ although they themselves have wrecked the environments and economies of small family farms across a swath of America from North Carolina to Iowa. As much as the factory meat producers, the Farm Bureau, their politicians and their special-interest groups try to make this into an ‘us versus them’ scenario, at its heart is the unabashed play for money and power-to establish meaningless rules, create toothless agencies and delay, distract and intimidate so they are free to do what they want.”

    Brahana continued: “The politics of this run very, very deep, and though the local landowners and farmers are cautious, they are quickly finding out that something doesn’t smell right. They have shared much with me. Now I’m sharing it with you to help educate those who don’t know.”

    His closing crescendo was equally blunt: “Only open dialogue, honesty, education, and calling out any liars will stop this garbage, for those are the ones who would take advantage of family farmers who do grow our food and the citizens of Arkansas who love the Buffalo National River.”

    With that kind of straight-from-the-heart language, I suspect Professor Brahana will draw the same standing ovation tonight that I’m affording this scientist while typing this final line.


    Mike Masterson’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him atmikemasterson10@hotmail.com.
  • 28 Sep 2013 9:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Legislators decide to spend more than $300,000 to study runoff from a hog farm in North Arkansas.

    C and H Hog Farm has been heavily debated, and now the Newton County property will open its gates to an environmental study. The measure comes following concerns that the waste could pollute the Buffalo River. The University of Arkansas will perform the monitoring, and the university will install and sample about 50 wells in and around the hog farm and make sure runoff is not contaminating the land or Buffalo River.

    "Monitoring within stream, above and below the farm, and then we'll identify where there are flows in the fields into big creek," said Dr. Mark Cochran, the vice president of Arkansas Agriculture System.

    Cochran said a group of scientists will focus on the hog waste.

    "We're going to be looking at water quality monitoring that's associated with the potential flows of bacteria off of this hog farm operation...both from surface runoff and subsurface runoff," explained Cochran.

    The project will require man power, and Cochran believes it will likely last five years if appropriately funded.

    "We have six faculty that will be engaged in this, but by the time we consider our student and our technicians off of it, we'll probably have a team of about 20 employees that will be involved," said Cochran.

    Thursday, a legislative panel approved $340,000 to kick-start the first year of the monitoring. Representative Nate Bell said it is money well spent.

    "Everybody is concerned to make sure the river is protected. Everybody is concerned that the farmer's rights to use his property are protected, and I think this project strikes a good balance from that," said Bell.

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality said the farm will not be fined if issues are uncovered by the study unless the farm somehow violates its permit. ADEQ will receive the findings of this study and then it will be open for the public's review.

  • 26 Sep 2013 6:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    UA division to study effects of hog farm on soil, water

    By Sean Beherec

    This article was published September 6, 2013 at 5:15 a.m.

    A legislative subcommittee Thursday approved spending $340,000 in general improvement funds to study the environmental effects of a commercial pig farm on the Buffalo River watershed.

    The study will be performed by the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture and will test for nutrients and pollutants in the soil, groundwater and waterways around the C&H Hog Farms in Newton County.

    Mark Cochran, the vice president of the division, told the committee that the funds will allow researchers to set up testing sites and perform operations for one year. Additional funds will be required as the study progresses, he said.

    The preferred length of the study would be five years, Cochran said.

    The actual amount requested by the division exceeded the $250,000 that Gov. Mike Beebe had requested. No member of the subcommittee voted against spending $340,000.

    Matt DeCample, a spokesman for the governor, said the $250,000 was just an initial estimate for the study.

    “Once we got the detailed plan on what they wanted to do to make sure they accomplished everything they wanted to with the study and the monitoring, the cost ended up higher and the governor signed off on it,” DeCample said.

    Several legislators questioned whether the study would provide results that could help in other parts of the state or if they would be specific to the site and the watershed.

    Cochran said the results and recommendations to the hog farm could be applied throughout the state and that the results would be shared with researchers in other parts of the country.

    Cochran stressed the division would not be involved in water quality enforcement as the study progressed.

    “I do want to remind you that one of our primary missions as a research extension of the university is the development and implementation of best practices so our farms can operate in compliance with state and federal laws,” rather than enforcement, Cochran said.

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit for the 6,500-pig operation earlier this year.The farm drew criticism from environmental groups, which expressed concerns about the facility’s effects on water quality in Big Creek, a tributary that feeds into the Buffalo National River.

    The environmental groups also warned that the planned application of manure to neighboring properties could effect water quality and nutrients in the soil.

    Teresa Marks, the director of the state environmental agency, said the department may “tweak” the guidelines of the permit during the course of the study if needed. But Marks said the farm would not face penalties if it is operating under the terms in the permit.

    A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit Aug. 6 against the federal government, arguing that it failed to conduct a proper assessment of the environmental impact of the farm before issuing loan guarantees for its construction.

  • 25 Sep 2013 4:28 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.
  • 19 Sep 2013 8:44 PM | Anonymous
    The current issue of American Way has an article on the Buffalo National River by Fayetteville author Bob Whitby.

    To read the full article follow this link

  • 14 Sep 2013 1:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    [See the full ADEQ Inspection Report on the Documents and Video page]

    Hog farm’s inspection results released
    Inspectors note concerns with nutrient plan, waste lagoon in advisory report
    By Ryan McGeeney

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality this week issued the results of a compliance assistance inspection of C&H Hog Farms, the concentrated animal feeding operation in Newton County.

    Findings of the inspection, which was conducted July 23, were made available to the public on the department’s website after a report was mailed to Jason Henson, thepresident and one of three co-owners of the farm in Mount Judea.

    Ryan Benefield, deputy director of the Environmental Quality Department, said a compliance assistance inspection is not uncommon on new operations that have environmental permits through the state or federal government. Benefield said that although permit holders sometimes request this sort of inspection, department staff members initiated theinspection in this instance because of noted public concern about the farm and its location.

    “We committed to the public that we would be overseeing this facility,” Benefield said.

    C&H Hog Farms is the first and only facility in Arkansas to hold a federal largescale animal feeding operation water-discharge permit through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The farm is permitted to house approximately 2,500 full-grown sows and as many as 4,000 piglets at any given time. Henson and his co-owner cousins, Richard and Philip Campbell, contract with Cargill Inc. to provide weaned piglets, which are eventually slaughtered at other facilities.

    Although the owners attracted no unusual attention when they applied for and received the permit in 2012, public outcry began to mountin early 2013 when administrators at the Buffalo National River began questioning the validity of the farm’s environmental assessment, performed by the Farm Service Agency as part of a loan-guarantee process.

    The production facility is surrounded by approximately 630 acres of grassland fields, upon which the farm operators are permitted to spread collected hog waste as fertilizer. Because several portions of the acreage abut Big Creek, a major tributary to the Buffalo National River, and because of the karst geology of Newton County, environmental activists and business owners have publicly voiced concern that waste from the farm may contaminate the river through surface water, groundwater or both.

    In the report, Jason Bolenbaugh, inspection branch manager for the Environmental Quality Department, identif ies six concerns raised by inspectors during their visit to the farm in July.

    Three of the issues concerned the accurate labeling of maps contained in the farm’s nutrient management plan, a 263-page document outlining the design and function of the farm, including when, where and how waste will be disposed of during normal operation of the farm. The report cautions Henson that the plan’s overall site map should “include buffer zones around all ponds, streams and drainages,” and that all appropriate buffer zones around other boundaries and waterways be avoided when applying fertilizer.

    The report also notes that no copy of the nutrient management plan was immediately available onsite during the inspection. Benefield said he had spoken by phone with Henson, who was not on the farm during the inspection, and that the employee escorting the inspectors was simply unaware of the plan’s location.

    According to the report, “no means of managing farm mortality was observed on site.” Farm mortality refers to an inevitable number of dead pigs resulting from a fully-operational breeding operation, in which a large portion of 2,500 sows are birthing litters of 12-15 piglets at any given time.

    Although the farm’s original nutrient management plan stated the farm would use a kind of composting unit known as an “in-vessel composter,” Environmental Quality Department spokesperson Katherine Benenati said the department had subsequently approved a modification to the plan, allowing the facilitator to use an incinerator instead.

    Benefield said Henson also stated after the inspection that the incinerator was present, but that the employee present during the tour had also not known its location.

    Finally, the inspection report noted several signs of erosion in the clay liner that holds the collected hog waste in two large lagoons.

    Benefield said that signs of erosion in new waste-containment lagoons were typical and not an immediate cause for concern.

    “Part of maintaining the liner is to repair erosion rills as they happen,” said Benefield, referring to small cracks that may appear in liner clay or topsoil. “If left unattended, it could be an issue, but maintained, it won’t be.”

    Karl VanDevender, a professor of biological engineering and an extension engineer for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Cooperative Extension Serviceoffice, said erosion in new waste ponds was typical until vegetation is able to take hold and secure thesurrounding soil.

    Benefield stressed that a compliance assistance inspection essentially serves an advisory function, helping operators of new facilities to identify shortcomings before they become serious problems.

    Benefield said the water division oversees about 6,000 permits throughout the state, employing 17 inspectors to investigate permitted facilities either on a renewal-driven or complaint-driven basis.

    Department director Teresa Marks said she anticipated visiting C&H Hog Farms more frequently than other installations that had not received as much public scrutiny, but that nothing about the farm had raised concerns when she and Benefield visited the farm personally earlier this year.

    “We are going to respond to any complaints we get,” Marks said. “We will have boots on the ground out there, but we weren’t alarmed by anything we saw out there. We didn’t see any harm to the environment from this installation.”

  • 11 Sep 2013 11:54 AM | Anonymous
    On September 5, a legislative subcommittee in Little Rock recommended funding a $340,000 proposal by the University of Arkansas to “Demonstrate and Monitor the Sustainable Management of Nutrients on C & H Farm in Big Creek Watershed.” The proposal requests an additional $400,000 over the following four years. In short, three-quarters of a million dollars of tax-payer money will be used to monitor the impact this 6,500-head factory hog operation will have on the fragile ecology of Big Creek and, more importantly, on the Buffalo National River a short distance downstream. 

    Why are Arkansas taxpayers asked to foot the bill to keep tabs on a privately owned operation (whose $3.4 million loans are also guaranteed by US taxpayers) under contract with Cargill, a private multi-national conglomerate? Could it be because the state and its Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) realize they made a mistake by allowing this factory farm, the first and largest of its kind in Arkansas, to be located in such a sensitive area where it threatens the Natural State’s crown jewel? 

    Neither neighbors, Newton county residents, nor anyone in the state received notice of this project except for a brief posting buried deep in the ADEQ website. As a result, the public did not become aware of the facility until months after the permit was issued and construction was nearly complete. If proper public notice was given when the permit application was received, and public opposition was equally strong (now reaching the national level), would the state respond the same way and agree to spend $750,000 to monitor a $3.4 million private operation? Or would the state see that such a high impact facility obviously does not belong in the fragile karst terrain of the Ozarks and deny the permit? It seems the state is covering its ham-hocks for allowing itself to be steamrolled by Cargill and Farm Bureau and for its lack of oversight, foresight and due diligence in allowing this permit to be issued without public notice.

    Ironically, the state, including the Governor, ADEQ and the legislature, refused to consider an alternative proposal by nationally-renowned hydrogeologist and retired University of Arkansas professor Dr. John Brahana. His proposal carries a price tag of $69,000, less than 1/10th the cost of the U of A proposal. Most importantly, Dr Brahana’s techniques will find waste leakage more reliably and quicker than will the U of A’s monitoring wells. He will monitor existing springs and Big Creek and will use critical dye tracing studies to identify subsurface water flow. For example, if dye was placed in one of the waste storage ponds (which are expected to leak up to 5,000 gallons per acre per day) and then appeared in one of the many springs bubbling up in nearby Big Creek, or a neighbor’s private well, or even in the Buffalo River, that would be proof positive, before damage was done, that contamination would occur. 

    Under the state’s plan, a monitoring well may be drilled in an area where little or no karst is present and waste may bypass the well or may show up very slowly, after significant impairment of Big Creek and the Buffalo has taken place. 

    Why would the state not even consider a lower cost study which would show damage rather than one which may not show damage at all or not until after the Buffalo has been seriously contaminated?  

    Dr Brahana’s work, ongoing for several months, has already provided important baseline data on water quality in Big Creek. It’s a shame the state wasted a golden opportunity to gather important water data and opted instead for an inflated study which will only provide a partial and incomplete picture of the risks to the region. Perhaps this study is intended to kill public outrage over the factory farm – not actually monitor and prevent a major catastrophe for the region.  

    Visit the Documents page on the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance website http://buffaloriveralliance.org/ where you can read both the U of A proposal as well as Dr Brahana’s and judge for yourself. 
  • 08 Sep 2013 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hutchinson: More Notice Needed On Hog Farm, Other Projects
    By Doug Thompson

    FAYETTEVILLE undefined The state should require more public notice for construction of ventures like a large-scale hog farm in the watershed of the Buffalo National River, Asa Hutchinson, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, said Friday.

    “There needs to be better notification when such a large operation is being planned,” Hutchinson said after the issue came up at a noon question-and-answer session sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. Hutchinson is running for the Republican nomination against Curtis Coleman of Little Rock and Rep. Debra Hobbs of Rogers. The only declared Democratic candidate is former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross of Prescott.

    Hutchinson is a former representative of Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District, which includes Fayetteville and the area near Mount Judea where C&H Hog Farms is located. The farm received all required permits and permissions to house about 2,500 full-grown sows and as many as 4,000 piglets at a time. It's the first such facility in Arkansas to receive a general water discharge permit required through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

    Federal agencies that signed off on the project by granting the required loan guarantees and other approval are subject to a federal lawsuit filed by environmental groups. The lack of state requirements for more public notice also came under criticism by neighbors and environmental groups after the project’s permits went through.

    “That’s good to hear. This whole thing was kept under the radar,” said Gordon Watkins of Jasper, president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, which opposes the hog farm, when told of Hutchinson’s comment.

    At the chamber’s meeting, Hutchinson said the state has lagged behind other states in the region in job growth in the last year. The state has a “noncompetitive” state income tax rate that needs to be reduced, he said. The state also needs to do more to bring education up to date. “The ability to write computer code is the language of the workplace in the future,” he said.

    Hutchinson also said the importance of governors increase the longer the federal government remains deadlocked.

    “Governors solve the problems and find the solutions when the federal government is broken and unable to lead,” he said.

    The state should also adopt a policy that state government growth shouldn't exceed revenue growth, Hutchinson said.

    Tyler Clark, Democratic Party chairman of Washington County, attended the chamber event. He asked Hutchinson how much he expected to cut the income tax. Hutchinson said his specific plans would be announced at a later date.

    “There was no policy outlined in that talk,” Clark said after the event. “Even though he’s from Northwest Arkansas, he doesn’t resonate here.”

    In the governor’s campaign, Hutchinson said he has 13 fundraisers planned in September alone. The campaign for the November 2014 election is already in full swing, he said.

  • 08 Sep 2013 11:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Research group on its own testing water near hog farm
    2 scientists fear analysis shorted on area around operation
    By Ryan McGeeney

    FAYETTEVILLE - Two Arkansas scientists are working to document water quality near the C&H Hog Farms in Newton County.

    Van Brahana, a hydrologist and recently retired University of Arkansas geosciences professor, and Joe Nix, a retired distinguished professor of chemistry at Ouachita Baptist University, are working with a small team to collect and analyze water samples from a growing number of sites near the hog operation in Mount Judea.

    “The reason I got into this was I perceived a gross miscarriage of characterizing a site,” Brahana said.

    Like several critics of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to grant a water-discharge permit to C&H Hog Farms, Brahana’s main concern is with the karst geology that defines much of the area. The porous limestone substrate contains an unknown number of caves, underground springs and other waterways.

    The farm is the first and only operation in Arkansas to hold a federal concentrated animal-feeding operation permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The farm is permitted to house about 2,500 full-grown sows and as many as 4,000 piglets at any given time, and is permitted to spread waste from the hogs over about 630 acres of surrounding grasslands, some of which abut Big Creek, a tributary to the Buffalo National River.

    Brahana said he has questions about the farm’s nutrient-management plan, which outlines how operators dispose of the animal waste sothat nearby waterways won’t be polluted. Brahana said he was also upset about the Farm Service Agency’s perceived failure to conduct a study of the karst structures during its environmental assessment of the farm and surrounding areas in 2012.

    “I’m talking about the one they didn’t do,” Brahana said. “There was no preliminary study. They did nothing.”

    In May, state Rep. David Branscum, R-Marshall, invited legislators from around the state to tour C&H Hog Farms, canoe the Buffalo National River, and hear several presentations from farmers and park Superintendent Kevin Cheri. Although Branscum said Friday that he had chosen to invite neither “pro-farm” nor “anti-farm” speakers because he wished to avoid a shouting match, Brahana said he was left with the distinct feeling of being“disinvited.”

    “I think I’m perceived as a rogue tree-hugger,” Brahana said. “But I balance my approach. I am not always environmental; I am not always pro-development. I collect data, and the data I collect answer a question. If there’s an implication there will be problems, I say so.”

    Shortly after Branscum’s meeting in Newton County, Brahana and his research assistants applied for and received sampling permits from the Buffalo National River administrators and the U.S. Forest Service, and in July began collecting water samples from about two dozen sites in the Big Creek Basin, the area in which the hog operation and the confluence of Big Creek and the Buffalo National River sit. Brahana said he is testing for bacteria, including E. coli and fecal coliform, as well as a spectrum of nutrients including nitrate, phosphorus, chlorides and about a dozen others.

    Brahana said his team analyzes bacteria samples at the UA Water Resources Laboratory in Fayetteville, because the bacteria die quickly in sampling. The other samples are sent overnight to Nix,Brahana’s primary research partner, in Arkadelphia.

    Nix founded the lab at Ouachita Baptist University in 1966, and subsequently attracted millions of dollars in research funding over the decades. Nix was also the second president of the Ozark Society, accepting the post after the organization’s founder, Neal Compton, stepped down.

    Nix said the primary importance of the research project was to establish background data for water quality in the area, so that if pollutants are later found, the change can be detected.

    “The truth of the matter is, [the Environmental Quality Department] should have had background data up there. They should be doing what Brahana is doing right now, but they’re not,” Nix said. “When you have something like this that stands to change everything, you have to have good background data. You need to know it particularly because it’s a karst area - it’s terribly important that you know what’s there now.”

    Nix and Brahana said the quarterly analysis the Environmental Quality Department does with samples taken along the Buffalo National River are inadequate, both in their frequency and in their timing.

    “When things move, they don’t move on a calendar schedule geared to humans,” Brahana said. “They move in response to storm events and low-flow events.”

    Brahana said that all the principal researchers on his team have been working without pay, but that technical material and equipment costs to complete the baseline research are beyond what the researchers can afford to pay.

    Some of the testing Brahana hopes to do, including a dye test, in which a chemically unique dye is traced through groundwater pathways, will amount to tens of thousands of dollars. In an Aug. 31 letter to Gov. Mike Beebe, Brahana outlined his research and estimated total costs to be about $69,000.

    The fact that the stateLegislature recently allocated more than $340,000 for the UA Agriculture Division to perform water and soil testing in the area does not dissuade Brahana and Nix fromthe belief that their research is necessary.

    “I saw allusions to the idea that [the university’s] study will answer all those questions,” Brahana said. “Idon’t believe it’s designed to answer those. I think it’s focused on the farm itself. It’s not focused on the regional basin. It only focuses on the farm, and three of the 17 fields surrounding the farm, using wells instead of springs and other sites that are important to evaluate.”

    Brahana said he was considering applying to the Arkansas Natural Resources Council for funding, but would likely avoid funding from environmental-activist organizations to avoid the appearance of tampering or impropriety. The Environmental Quality Department’s director, Teresa Marks, said her department isn’t able to fund outside research such as Brahana’s but that her agency would take Brahana’s research into account when considering permit applications and renewals in the basin area.

    Brahana said his goal with the project was to affect permitting regulations in ecologically fragile areas of the state.

    “My main concern, looking long-range, is to establish state regulations that would be protective of environments that are more fragile, like a karst region,” Brahana said. “I don’t think the state has an effective set of regulations now.”

  • 07 Sep 2013 7:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Groups plan rally over hog farm lawsuit
    David Holsted/Staff, Harrison Daily Times

    Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013 7:15 am
    Staff Report dailytimes@harrisondaily.com |0 comments

    The Newton County Farm Bureau recently elected a second owner of C&H Hog Farms to its board of directors and passed resolutions including one to encourage water quality monitoring on the Buffalo National River, while detractors of the farm are scheduling a rally in support of a lawsuit filed regarding the farm.

    Officials say Jason Henson, one partner in C&H Hog Farm, was elected to the board of directors at a recent meeting. Co-owner Richard Campbell was already a board member.
    One resolution passed at the same meeting is in support of monitoring water quality at multiple sights on the river during the May-October floating season to determine impact on recreational activity.

    Another resolution calls for existing state and federal guidelines regulating confined animal feeding operations like the hog farm be deemed adequate for permit eligibility.
    That resolution states that “scientific testing and studies have concluded these guidelines meet or exceed safeguards to protect the environment and general public” and that “certain radical environmental groups have challenged these accepted guidelines based on emotion, supposition and unscientific reasoning....”

    The Buffalo River Water Shed Alliance, the Arkansas Canoe Club, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Ozark Society filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal and state Small Business Administration, the federal and state Farm Service Agency and directors of each entity.

    The suit asks the court to void loan guarantees to C&H Hog Farms near Mt. Judea based on the impact the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) could have on the Buffalo National River.

    A press release said members of the plaintiff groups have invited former Sen. Dale Bumpers, Cong. Ed Bethune, former Cong. Vic Snyder, Rev. Betsy Singleton and other dignitaries to a reception and rally to raise money for and awareness of efforts to preserve the river from possible pollution from the hog farm.

    The rally is scheduled for 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at Snyder’s home, 50 Robinwood Drive, Little Rock.

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