Hog farm lawsuit hearing comes to MH


Scott Liles, Baxter Bulletin (AR)

Nov. 28, 2018


A hearing regarding a Newton County Circuit Court case will apparently be held in Mountain Home next week.


A 10 a.m. hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at the Baxter County Court Complex to hear motions in C&H Hog Farms’ lawsuit against the Arkansas Pollution and Ecology Control Commission.


C&H Hog Farms of Vendor was permitted to house 6,500 hogs in a site alongside Big Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo National River. Liquid waste from the hogs was retained in two waste ponds and is sprayed on 600 acres of adjacent farmland as fertilizer.


It previously operated under a permit no longer administered by the state, and its application for a new permit was initially denied by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in January, touching off a series of appeals and legal wrangling.


C&H Hog Farms appealed ADEQ’s decision to the Arkansas Pollution and Ecology Control Commission, which sent the decision back to ADEQ in August. The hog farm appealed that decision as well, and in October Circuit Court Judge John Putman ordered a stay on the department’s September decision to deny the permit.


ADEQ last week issued its own final denial of C&H’s application, and the hog farm requested that the court find ADEQ in contempt for issuing its own permitting decision while Judge Putman’s stay order was still in effect.


The motion by C&H Hog Farm to require ADEQ to show why it should not be held in contempt is not one of the issues to be addressed at Tuesday’s hearing, but the topic could be added later this week, the Arkansas Times notes.


Conservation groups have opposed the operation of the hog farm within the river’s watershed, arguing that the manure from the hog farm could potentially increase the risks of the federally protected Buffalo becoming polluted.


A federal presentation drawing upon research by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Parks System and ADEQ found that the groundwater in the Buffalo watershed is increasingly polluted, but did not link the operation of the hog farm with the decrease in water quality.


In denying the operating permit last week, ADEQ cited water-quality issues and insufficient geological investigations into the karst terrain underneath the farm as reasons to deny the operating permit.


Kart topography is characterized by sinkholes and caves...