by Max Brantley
For environmentalists, the development of the Mount Judea (pronounced Judy) hog farm provides a stark example of what they see as lax oversight of such farms by state and federal regulators. Many of them were dismayed last year, for instance, when the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew proposed regulations that would have required all concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to submit “basic operational information” and would have increased the number of such farms that require permits.
But C&H Hog Farms has many supporters, who say that these farms have long dotted the watershed without causing major environmental damage. They argue that the owners of C&H followed all the required steps to obtain a permit and will do all they can to make sure that the farm does not hurt the ecosystem.
This, however, is unlike any other hog operation in the area. With just over 2,500 sows — producing thousands of piglets — C&H has more of them than all of the other hog farms now operating in the Buffalo River watershed combined.Cargill puts concerns down to "what-if" questions. True enough. But ifs have come true in other places. The state's chief environmental regulator closes the article on a sanguine note.
Teresa Marks, the director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said that while the public should have been better notified about the operation before approval, she had enough confidence in the environmental integrity of the project that it would not have affected the ultimate outcome.
“Will there be some of this waste that could reach the Buffalo River? Sure,” she said. “Will it cause an environmental problem? No, we don’t think there’s going to be any environmental harm caused.”