The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission
today approved regulations that will prohibit for five years new permits for factory hog farms in the Buffalo River watershed.
The rules had earlier been approved by the Legislative Council and arise from concerns about an existing hog farm approved with little notice at Mount Judea.
Opponents say the limestone geology is susceptible to spreading leaking hog waste into a nearby Buffalo River tributary.
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and Ozark Society, which had asked for the new rules, praised the decision.
“Today’s decision is great news for all Arkansans and the protection of the Buffalo River,” said Barry Haas, a member of the Panel’s Board of Directors. “We thank Governor Hutchinson, the Legislature and the APC&E Commission for their support to protect one of Arkansas’ most treasured natural resources.”
The rules will cover hog operations with 750 or more swine weighing 55 pounds or more or 3,000 or more smaller swine. The rules say the director of the Department of Environmental Quality must review the situation in five years and either make the ban permanent or remove it. The rules don't affect the existing C and H Hog Farm, though the sufficiency of its environmental impact review by federal agencies remains the subject of a lawsuit.
Said a news release:
“We thank the thousands of citizens who called for this change,” said Alan Nye, President of the Ozark Society. “The Buffalo River is protected for a minimum of five years from potential adverse impacts of new large swine facilities.”
The rule changes lower threats to water quality posed by the land application of swine wastes and leakage from waste holding ponds. Air quality will remain high in the Buffalo River watershed, and the growth of visitors to the Buffalo, an important economic driver for the state, should continue unabated.