Buffalo River 
Watershed
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  • 13 Aug 2013 7:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We reported last month that Gov. Mike Beebe, lawmakers, and various stakeholders were in discussion about the possibility of state-funded testing and monitoring on the C & H hog farm in Mt. Judea, which has sparked controversy because of its location by a tributary of the Buffalo River. The testing and monitoring would be conducted by water experts from the University of Arkansas and paid for via state rainy day funds, pending legislative approval. Now we're hearing murmurs that the idea may have hit a roadblock because of resistance from Cargill, which owns the hogs and is the farm's sole buyer.

    Yesterday, I received an anonymous email from someone claiming to be a state legislator, which stated "it is my understanding that U of A, Farm Bureau, and the Farmers support the testing but Cargill isn't on board." I cannot confirm that this actually came from a legislator, though at least one person heavily involved in negotiations over the possible testing program said off the record that it had.

    Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Beebe, said, "We are starting to get some pushback from Cargill, so that's something to be worked out. [Cargill has] resistance to the idea of ongoing university monitoring...currently that's the biggest obstacle." DeCample said that governor's office had not spoken to Cargill directly but had heard from others involved in the negotiations that Cargill was resistant.

    Cargill spokesman Mike Martin said that the company had not taken a position and was unable to comment until they saw an actual proposal.

    "We have not taken anything off the table at this point. It it ultimately the property of the farm owners. It's ultimately their decision. In terms of how we feel about it, we'd have to analyze what's being proposed before we can comment. If the question is, 'Do we have some concerns about monitoring?' The answer is that we would have to see what’s proposed because it depends on how it’s done and what’s being done, who’s doing it, who’s going to be involved in analyzing it, how it’s going to be reported."

    The Arkansas Farm Bureau declined to comment specifically on Cargill's role. "Should all those involved agree that a third-party study is in the best interest of this family farm, we are certainly supportive of that effort," spokesman Steve Eddington said. "We understand those discussions are ongoing."

    I was in Mt. Judea a few weeks back and asked C&H farmer Jason Henson about the possible testing program and he said it was "yet to be determined. It's up to several different people and groups." He said he was for it "because I think it will prove that everything we're doing is scientifically sound."

    After the jump, the full anonymous email, signed "a concerned Arkansas legislator."

    To Whom it May Concern:
    There is an interesting rumor floating around the Capitol that Cargill is against the proposed water quality testing offered by the Governor and the UofA. It is my understanding that UofA, Farm Bureau, and the Farmers support the testing but Cargill isn't on board. The Farm Families are afraid to buck Cargill for fear of losing their contract and everything they own.

    I can't get anyone to confirm this rumor. Beau Bishop with Farm Bureau and Mark Cochran with UofA both tell me that UofA is still working on a proposal. I'm not sure why Cargill is opposed but I hear Farm Bureau and the farmers want to know if the farm is polluting. They don't believe it is but want to fix it if it something isn't working.

    I hope you can find out more but it sounds like Cargill is actually being the bully we all think they are.

    Sincerely,
    A Concerned Arkansas Legislator

  • 11 Aug 2013 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    As promised

    It’s off to court we go

    Mike Masterson


    Folks at a coalition of conservation and citizen groups warned that a lawsuit awaited unless things changed radically with the controversial C&H hog factory approved by our state to grow thousands of Cargill Inc.’s hogs in the Buffalo National River watershed.
    Sure enough, those groups filed that lawsuit last week in the U.S. Eastern District against the U.S. Farm Service Agency, the Small Business Administration, and others, seeking to nullify $3.4 million in federal loan guarantees those agencies made to help create the hog factory.
    The suit alleges these agencies violated numerous regulations and laws, basically contending they didn’t properly notify the public and failed to conduct a thorough and proper environmental assessment as legally required. The USDA has maintained all along that its Farm Service Agency acted properly. But it’s evident to me how miserably this was handled when even the local National Park Service office responsible for protecting the river wasn’t even notified of the farm’s location until after the state’s Department of Environmental Quality had permitted it and the loan was guaranteed.
    Many of us out here believe the approvals were accomplished as quietly as possible. And any realistic concerns expressed after the permitting and questionable federal loan guarantee have been ignored by an arrogant and defensive bureaucracy.
    This hautiness was on display most recently when the highly regarded Earthjustice environmental law firm, which filed the lawsuit, issued its specific concerns to the federal agencies, giving them until July 8 to try and arrive at a suitable plan to resolve the matter outside court. Instead of rational responses, Earthjustice received only the sound of silence.
    “It’s incredible to think the agencies involved would be so slipshod, indifferent, and evidently blindly confident that they could get away with putting the Buffalo National River at significant risk with something as huge as this CAFO hog farm. The over 110 allegations, and 12 cited violations of laws or well-vetted regulations speaks to the magnitude of the risk to the American citizens’ river that the Small Business Administration and Farm Service Agency have enabled. It’s sad and aggravating the courts have to be called upon to undo this mess,” said Ozark Society Director Duane Woltjen.
    So last week came the promised suit, to be presided over by Judge Price Marshall, a former clerk for U.S. District Judge Richard Arnold. One news report indicated Marshall could be familiar with related issues since Arnold, while in private practice, won federal rulings that required full review of decisions made by federal agencies as they related to provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act. That act applies to the new lawsuit.
    Among questions I hope are resolved: The extent of the role a Farm Service Agency supervisor (whose wife is related to C&H Farms owners) played in securing his agency’s loan approval, along with his supervision of the extensively questioned environmental assessment submitted with that application.
    As for testing, Gov. Mike Beebe intends to request $250,000 in rainyday funds from the Legislature for a University of Arkansas study to obtain some actual facts about runoff patterns in this watershed.
    I asked Beebe’s aide, Matt De-Cample, about the request. “Here’s where things stand,” he responded. “The governor does intend to request $250,000 in rainy-day funds from the General Assembly to use for groundwater study and monitoring. To this point, no formal announcement or announcement date has been scheduled. There are additional landowners who would have to participate for any such study and monitoring to be successfully executed. We don’t want to jump the gun and announce anything or submit our formal request to the Legislature until everything is in place. While Arkansas Farm Bureau and Cargill and others have been involved in discussions surrounding the development of this study and monitoring idea, there were no requests to our office to delay any scheduled announcement. We’ll announce when we feel everything is in place that needs to be.”
    I’m sure most taxpaying voters across Arkansas will eagerly await this announcement.
    Farewell, Chris Battle
    Shortly after arriving as editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times in 1995, I was fortunate to hire one of the best and brightest political reporters and editorial page editors I’ve known. Chris Battle had a divine gift for drawing laughter and tears from readers with his wit and compassion. He went on to become a top aide and campaign manager for Asa Hutchinson and then a leading executive with The Adfero Group, a Washington-based public relations firm.
    Chris died at age 45 last week after battling kidney cancer for four long years. He leaves behind a wife and two children. Gone from here, yet always alive in the minds and hearts of so many who knew him, including my own.
     
    Mike Masterson’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at mikemasterson10@hotmail.com. Read his blog at mikemastersonsmessenger.com.
  • 09 Aug 2013 12:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    UA plan to test hog farm’s land isn’t ready to go

    Funding vote is put off, too

    By Ryan McGeeney

    Posted: August 9, 2013 at 2:07 a.m.

     
    A plan to begin testing for nutrients and pollutants in the soil and groundwater in the area near a Newton County hog farm has been indefinitely delayed, a University of Arkansas administrator said this week.

    Mark Cochran, vice president for the University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture, said university researchers are piecing together a proposal to measure the environmental effects of swine production at C&H Hog Farms, located in Mount Judea.

    “It’s a work in progress,” Cochran said. “There’s a beginning, middle and end to this process. We’re still trying to get our team [to C&H Hog Farms] to make the necessarysite visits.”

    Cochran said the idea to begin frequent water and soil testing around the farm began when co-owner Jason Henson approached agents at the Newton County Extension Office, which provides agricultural support to farmers through the university.

    The farm, which holds the state’s first and only federal permit for a large-scale concentrated animal feeding operation under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, has attracted public scrutiny since its construction earlier this year, largely because of its proximity to Big Creek, a major tributary of the Buffalo National River.

    Calls to Henson seeking comment for this story were not returned.

    The plan has been the topic of several closed-door discussions between Division of Agriculture administrators, state legislators and Gov. Mike Beebe since mid-July, according to Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample.

    DeCample said the governor hoped to address public concerns over possible pollution of ground and surface water in the area through the study.

    “A lot of Arkansans have particularly strong feelings regarding the river,” DeCample said. “They’ve made it clear to us.”

    DeCample said Beebe is requesting state legislators set aside $250,000 from the Arkansas Rainy Day Fund to initiate the study.

    “It’s not a done deal yet,” DeCample said. “There’s no formal deadline. It’s a matter of getting all the landowners on board.”

    The C&H Hog Farms production facility sits on an approximately 40-acre parcel west of Big Creek, surrounded by approximately 630 acres for which the operators have landuse agreements to spread the manure produced by the 2,500 sows and 4,000 piglets the facility is permitted to house. The acreage is composed of 17 fields, three of which areowned by Henson. The other 14 fields are owned by eight other landowners.

    Legislators were scheduled to vote on the $250,000 allotment during an Aug. 1 meeting of the Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council, but the vote was removed from the agenda at the last minute because Cochran had not yet provided a finalized proposal to legislators or to the governor’s office, state Rep. David Branscum, R-Marshall, said.

    Branscum said a vote on the appropriation had been placed on the agenda for the subcommittee’s Sept. 5 meeting.

    Cochran declined to say whether the study proposal would be complete before the Sept. 5 meeting.

    Northwest Arkansas, Pages 9 on 08/09/2013

  • 09 Aug 2013 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Groups sue over hog farm
    Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 4:31 pm |
    Staff Report dailytimes@harrisondaily.com 

    LITTLE ROCK undefined Several non-profit environmental organization have filed suit against state and federal agencies asking the court to void $3.4 million in 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.
    The lawsuit was filed by the Buffalo River Water Shed Alliance, the Arkansas Canoe Club, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Ozark Society and names defendants as 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.
    Environmental groups were taken by surprise when C&H opened earlier this year and they hadn’t been informed. They immediately began protests and they have been ongoing since.
    Buffalo National River officials contacted the Farm Service Agency in February stating that the agency’s environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) were “very weak from an environmental point of view.”
    C&H is located near Mt. Judea, not far from Big Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo. Manure produced from the CAFO will be spread on more than 600 nearby acres, some directly adjacent to Big Creek.
    The lawsuit says the National Park Service should have been consulted prior to approval of C&H’s permit to determine the impact on the river. It asks the court to order such consultation.
    It asks that the Farm Service Agency’s EA and FONSI be deemed unlawful, and that loan guarantees to C&H from the defendants be enjoined
    The suit asks that the matter be remanded to defendants for an environmental review to ensure no jeopardy to species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
    It also asks that plaintiffs be awarded attorneys’ fee and other costs rising from the litigation in fighting the 6,500-hog CAFO.
    The farm is owned by cousins Richard and Phillip Campbell and Jason Henson.
    Henson told the Daily Times in April that the farm will hold 2,500 breeding sows and the piglets they produce will be taken to out of state facility when a few weeks old to be finished to adult weight and ultimate slaughter for meat.
    The suit was filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division.
  • 07 Aug 2013 2:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Arkansas Democrat Gazette 8/7/13

    U.S. sued over loan pledged to hog farm
    By Ryan McGeeney

    Lawyers representing a coalition of four environmental-activism groups filed suit Tuesday against the federal government, claiming improper issuance of loan guarantees for the construction of C&H Hog Farms, the large-scale concentrated animal feeding operation in Mount Judea.

    Earthjustice, a New York-based environmental litigation group, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, located in Little Rock. The suit’s plaintiffs include the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, the Arkansas Canoe Club, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Ozark Society.

    The suit names seven defendants including the U.S Department of Agriculture and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; the U.S. Small Business Administration and its chief administrator, Karen Mills; Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan Garcia; Linda Newkirk, Arkansas state executive director for the Farm Service Agency; and Linda Nelson, Arkansas district director for the Small Business Administration.

    The suit comes after a July 6 notice of intent to sue, which Earthjustice mailed to the defendants listed in the suit. Hannah Chang, a lawyer for Earthjustice, said none of the defendants responded to the original notice.

    The 49-page document outlines the legal framework under which the Farm Service Agency and the Small Business Administration must consider environmental impacts, endangered species in a given region and other factors when deciding whether to guarantee a business loan. According to court documents, the two agencies issued guarantees for an amount totaling about $3.4 million to the owners of C&H Hog Farms.

    The suit sharply criticizes the Farm Service Agency, which is part of the USDA, for the level of attention given to assessing potential environmental impacts posed by the farm’s operation. “FSA’s analysis consists of five pages of ‘Executive Summary,’” reads the complaint. The rest of the agency’s environmental assessment consists of about 600 pages of documents including the farm operators’ Nutrient Management Plan and copies of existing permits.

    The suit alleges about 20 failures on the part of the government in conducting the environmental review, including the Farm Service Agency’s “finding of no significant impact” and its failure to consult with other agencies including the National Park Service before issuing the environmental assessment. The complaint then lists 12 causes of action,citing violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Buffalo River Enabling Act.

    In the final part of the suit, the plaintiffs ask the court to declare the Farm Service Agency’s environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact unlawful, enjoin implementation of the loan guarantees issued by the agencies and require the agencies to conduct a new environmental assessment in consultation with the National Park Service.

    Nelson of the Small Business Administration declined to comment when contacted. Calls to Newkirk’s office seeking comment were not returned.

    Chang said that although the farm has been in operation for several months, and that the suit, even if successful, would likely not lead to the revocation of the farm owners’ operational permits, a successful case would require agency officials to take steps to address possible environmental problems that could stem from the farm.

    “I don’t think we’re talking about time travel,” Chang said. “There are certain mitigation measures that can be taken. It’s [the Farm Service Agency’s] responsibility to consider what conditions can be attached to loan guarantees. Our suit is based on the fact that they didn’t follow procedures. It was the agencies’ job to do this work, and they did not.”

    C&H Hog Farms, which is permitted to house about 2,500 full-grown sows and as many as 4,000 piglets at a time, is the first and only such facility in Arkansas to receive a general water discharge permit through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

    The owners of the farm, Jason Henson and his cousins Philip and Richard Campbell, have land-use agreements that provide about 630 acres of grasslands upon which to spread the nitrogen- and phosphorous-rich manure produced by the hogs. According to the farm’s nutrient management plan, hogs in the facility are calculated to produce more than 2 million gallons of waste each year, which is collected in two large open-air lagoons before being spread over the surrounding grasslands.

    Jack Stewart, an organizer with the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, said multiple concerns within the organization’s membership led to the decision to join the suit.
    “American tax payers should not be backing something like this,” Stewart said. “This is a [concentrated animal feeding operation] that’s been placed next to a national river, which is property of all American people.

    “The environmental assessment that was done was rushed through. Once any judge takes a look at this, he’s going to see that it needs to be looked at all over again.”

    The government has 60 days in which to reply to the filing, Chang said.
    “They could come to the table and talk about what they’re willing to do, or they may simply file their answer,” Chang said.

    Stewart said he expected a long legal battle to unfold from Tuesday’s filing.
    “The long-term effort is really just getting started,” Stewart said. “The whole issue is so egregious, we expect this is going to be a long-haul fight.”
     
     
  • 06 Aug 2013 6:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Lawsuit filed over loans for hog farm
    Arkansas News Bureau

    LITTLE ROCK  A coalition of environmental activist groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday against two federal agencies over their issuance of about $3.3 million in loan guarantees to C&H Hog Farms, which operates on a tributary of the Buffalo National River in Searcy County.

    The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Little Rock, argues that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration failed to conduct a proper environmental impact study of the area surrounding the farm, which has about 6,500 hogs.

    The lawsuit asks the court to declare the existing environmental assessment unlawful, and that the loans to the farm owners be enjoined and new environmental assessments be conducted with the involvement from the National Park Service.

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in 2012 issued an operational permit to the farm.

    “Local residents will suffer the most from this absurdly located factory farm,” Debbie Doss of the Arkansas Canoe Club in a news release. “Residents of Mount Judea will be exposed, downwind, to smell and adverse health effects of methane and hydrogen sulfide.”

    Emily Jones with National Parks Conservation Association said the environmental groups tried to avoid taking the issue to court.

    “FSA and SBA failed to provide the public notice and undertake the environmental review and consultations required by law, so we’re asking to set aside the loan guarantees and instruct the agencies to comply,” she said.

    The other environmental activist groups involved in filing the lawsuit were the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, The Ozark Society and Earthjustice.

    Jason Henson, president of C&H Hog Farms, did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.
  • 06 Aug 2013 1:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Arkansas Times
    Lawsuit filed to stop hog feeding operation in Buffalo River watershed
    Posted by Max Brantley on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    TARGETED BY LAWSUIT: The C&H Hog Farms feeding operation.
    A coalition of groups filed suit in federal court in Little Rock today to set aside $3.4 million in loan guarantees by the federal Farm Service Agency and Small Business Administration to C&H Hog Farms, a 6,500-pig feeding operation on a major tributary of the Buffalo National River near Mount Judea.
    The lawsuit said the agencies had not issued the proper public notice and undertaken environmental assessments required by law. From a release:

    “FSA and SBA failed to provide the public notice and undertake the environmental review and consultations required by law, so we’re asking the court to set aside the loan guarantees and instruct the agencies to comply,” said Emily Jones of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We have asked FSA and SBA to do the right thing without litigation, but they have not, and today we find ourselves in court to protect the Buffalo River, a national treasure of immeasurable worth.”

    The SBA did no environmental assessment. The Farm Service Agency review was deeply flawed, the lawsuit says. Particularly, it ignored the impact of the smell from manure on a nearby school and the potential for problems from manure draining through the porous karst geology of the area.

    The National Park Service, which operates the popular national river, wasn't notified of the farm until after it had been approved. It found 45 problems with the "woefully inadequate" environmental assessment.

    “The rubber-stamping of the requested loan guarantees, the inadequate review of the environmental consequences, and the failure to notify the local community and to consult with sister agencies as required, makes a mockery of the law and puts a national treasure in harm’s way,” said Hannah Chang, attorney with the public interest law firm Earthjustice.

    A local family is operating the farm under contract with Cargill, the food industry giant. The family has insisted it will be good stewards and values the region, too. The farm also got a permit from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. It is not a defendant in the suit, supported by the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Association, The Ozark Society, the Arkansas Canoe Club and Earthjustice.

    Judge Price Marshall drew the case. A legal foonote: Marshall once clerked for federal Judge Richard Arnold, who, as a private lawyer, won landmark federal court rulings that required substantive reviews of federal agency decisions under the National Environmental Policy Act. Arnold participated in efforts to stop damming of the Cossatot and Cache Rivers. A violation of NEPA is among the things alleged in this lawsuit.

    Groups Go To Court to Protect Buffalo National River from Factory Hog Farm Waste
    Lawsuit challenges federal loan guarantees for industrial swine facility in the Buffalo National River watershed

    Little Rock, Arkansas undefined A coalition of conservation and citizen groups filed suit today challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for their inadequate review and improper authorization of loan guarantee assistance to C&H Hog Farms, a 6,500-pig factory farm located on a major tributary of the Buffalo National River, a national park site and the country’s first national river. The groups set forth their concerns in a letter to the federal agencies dated June 6, 2013, and are bringing suit only after the agencies have made clear that they are not remedying their violations of the law. The suit was filed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division.

    “FSA and SBA failed to provide the public notice and undertake the environmental review and consultations required by law, so we’re asking the court to set aside the loan guarantees and instruct the agencies to comply,” said Emily Jones of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We have asked FSA and SBA to do the right thing without litigation, but they have not, and today we find ourselves in court to protect the Buffalo River, a national treasure of immeasurable worth.”

    The Buffalo River travels through the heart of the Ozark Mountains in northwestern Arkansas, and runs beneath magnificent cliffs which at times extend nearly 700 feet above the river's clear, quiet pools and rushing rapids. One hundred thirty-five miles of the Buffalo comprise the national river, which attracts more than one million visitors each year who float the crystal waters, camp on the gravel bars, and hike the trails undefined generating $38 million toward the local economy.

    “The Buffalo is an astonishingly beautiful natural resource, Arkansas’ crown jewel,” said Jack Stewart of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance. “Siting an industrial hog facility so close to the river threatens to desecrate this national treasure, known to so many for its peaceful meanderings and the scent of wild azaleas in bloom.”

    The C&H facility is located on the banks of Big Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo River, in Mount Judea, Arkansas. Under a contract with Cargill, Inc., an international agricultural and food conglomerate, C&H will confine 6,500 pigs at a time making the operation the first of its size and scale in the Buffalo River watershed. The pigs will produce more than two million gallons of manure, wastewater and litter each year, which will be collected in open-air storage ponds on site and spread onto approximately 630 acres of land surrounding the farm and adjacent to the banks of Big Creek. These manure application fields are less than six miles upstream from Big Creek’s confluence with the Buffalo National River, and several are located directly adjacent to Mount Judea School.

    “Local residents will suffer the most from this absurdly located factory farm,” said Debbie Doss of the Arkansas Canoe Club. “Residents of Mount Judea will be exposed, downwind, to the smell and adverse health effects of methane and hydrogen sulfide. A swine facility this large will put children at the Mount Judea School at high risk of health impacts including asthma and other respiratory conditions.”

    The C&H facility received more than $3.4 million in loan guarantee assistance from the federal government. FSA approved a loan guarantee for 90 percent of a $1,302,000 loan to C&H. SBA approved a loan guarantee for a $2,318,136 loan.

    In providing this federal assistance, SBA undertook no environmental review whatsoever, while FSA prepared a deeply flawed and insufficient environmental assessment that fails to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Among multiple errors and omissions, FSA’s environmental assessment incorrectly defines the acreage of the C&H facility, does not take into account nearby sensitive areas such as the Mount Judea School, and ignores the consequences of manure draining through the porous karst geology of the Buffalo River region.

    “In the 60’s and 70’s the Ozark Society worked with Congress to have the Buffalo protected for posterity as the nation’s first national river,” said Robert Cross of the Ozark Society. “We have countered threats to the river before, but now face the biggest threat to date. Despite the assurances of C&H that they have the highest level of technology to prevent accidents, the siting of this facility in karst terrain and directly adjacent to a tributary of the Buffalo River will not require an accident to cause tremendous damage to the river and the surrounding environment. SBA and FSA should have, but did not, consider these factors in its review of the proposed project.”

    In addition, the notice of FSA’s environmental assessment was never published in a local newspaper in Mount Judea. FSA also failed to inform the National Park Service Superintendent of the Buffalo National River of the environmental review as required, and the superintendent did not find out about the environmental assessment and guarantee assistance until well after it had been approved for the C&H operation. In a letter to FSA, the Park Service identified 45 problems with FSA’s environmental assessment and stated that it was “so woefully inadequate that it should immediately be rescinded.”

    “The rubber-stamping of the requested loan guarantees, the inadequate review of the environmental consequences, and the failure to notify the local community and to consult with sister agencies as required, makes a mockery of the law and puts a national treasure in harm’s way,” said Hannah Chang, attorney with the public interest law firm Earthjustice. “It should never have come to this point, and we are in court to make sure it is put right and doesn’t happen again.”

    Earthjustice, Earthrise Law Center, and local attorney Hank Bates are representing the Arkansas Canoe Club, Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, and The Ozark Society in filing this complaint against the USDA and SBA.

    The court filing can be found at the following link:

    http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/buffalo-river-complaint

    For additional documents related to the Mount Judea CAFO, visit: http://buffaloriveralliance.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1558368
  • 06 Aug 2013 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    NWAOnline
    Lawsuit filed over C&H Hog Farms loans
    By Ryan McGeeney
    Posted: August 6, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.
    Print item
    E-mail

    A coalition of four environmental activism groups filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court against both the Farm Service Agency and the Small Business Administration for the issuance of loan guarantees for the construction of C&H Hog Farms, the large-scale concentrated animal feeding operation in Mount Judea.

    The complaint, filed by Earthjustice in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western Division, generally alleges the agencies did not conduct proper environmental assessments of the area surrounding the farm, which abuts Big Creek, a major tributary of the Buffalo National River.

    The suit seeks several remedial actions, including a declaration from the court that the existing environmental assessment and its findings are unlawful, that about $3.3 million in loan guarantees to the farm owners be enjoined, and that new environmental assessments be conducted with the involvement of the National Park Service.

    C&H Hog Farms, which is permitted to house about 2,500 full-grown sows and as many as 4,000 piglets at a time, is the first and only such facility in Arkansas to receive a general water discharge permit through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The owners of the farm have land use agreements that provide about 630 acres of grasslands upon which to spread the nitrogen- and phosphorous-rich manure produced by the hogs.
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