Groups oppose hog farm near the Buffalo River

Several conservation and citizen action groups announced Monday they will file a lawsuit in an effort to halt construction of a hog farm in the Buffalo National River watershed.

The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, The Ozark Society and Earthjustice claim that loan approval made to C&H Hog Farms to operate a 6,500-pig operation were not “properly examined” and may violate the Endangered Species Act.

The hog farm is producing pigs for Cargill.

According to a press release from the four groups, the estimated 2 million gallons of waste produced by the hog farm will be spread on 630 acres, with some of the land adjacent to Big Creek, a large tributary of the Buffalo National River.

Designated in 1972 by President Richard Nixon as America's first national river, the Buffalo National River travels freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states

The river watershed is home to over 300 species of fish, insects, freshwater mussels, and aquatic plants, including the endangered snuffbox mussel, the endangered Gray bat, and the endangered Indiana bat. A popular camping, canoeing, and fishing destination, the Buffalo National River attracts more than one million visitors a year.

“This factory farm will produce massive quantities of waste just six miles from the Buffalo River, and that waste will be spread on land that is right next to one of the Buffalo’s major tributaries,” Emily Jones, senior program manager, Southeast Region at National Parks Conservation Association, said in the statement. “We are talking about one of the most beautiful areas in the country. To think that our government would allow this hog factory in the watershed without examining its impacts is unconscionable.”

Robert Cross, president of the Ozark Society, said the farm is the “greatest threat to the Buffalo River since the Corp of Engineer's dam proposal that we were able to thwart 50 years ago.”

The groups also allege that state and federal environmental oversight agencies failed to adequately notify local residents of the proposed hog farm.

The C&H facility’s loan and guarantee were issued in the summer and fall of 2012.  Because of a failure to notify local residents, however, the community in and around Mount Judea did not find out about the facility’s construction until this year.  The lack of adequate public notice is just one of a number of egregious failures on the part of the state and federal government to ensure that this facility will not have detrimental impacts on the exceptional natural resources of the Buffalo River watershed.

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“Our aim is to prevent this farm from going forward without a thorough examination of the consequences – consequences that could result in irreversible damage to one of America’s most treasured places, the Buffalo National River,” said Jack Stewart of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance.

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