The water quality of America's first national river and the region’s tourism economy are threatened by an industrial swine facility spreading millions of gallons of waste in the watershed.
The Buffalo River is America’s first national river and a beloved national park. The health of the Buffalo is dependent on the water quality of its tributaries, many of which lie outside the park’s narrow boundaries. In 2012, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality granted a permit to an industrial swine facility, C & H Hog Farms, Inc. The millions of gallons of hog waste from this swine facility is spread over hundreds of acres of porous land, along the banks of Big Creek, a major tributary of the river. It threatens the health of the watershed and the enjoyment of visitors who swim, fish and boat here.
C&H’s facility is the first large swine concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in the state. The CAFO supplies pork to the multinational company JBS, the largest animal protein processing company in the world. C&H’s state permit expired on October 31, 2016. The company applied to the state of Arkansas for a new permit that would allow it to operate indefinitely in the Buffalo National River watershed. The company submitted incomplete paperwork in its application and failed to produce the requisite geological, geotechnical, groundwater, soils, structural and testing information specified in state regulations and required by the Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook.
The state denied C&H’s permit in January 2018. Now C&H has appealed to the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, which has granted a stay until February 10. Meanwhile the swine facility is allowed to continue operating in the Buffalo watershed while it appeals the decision. C & H has had over a year to produce the required testing information but has failed to do so.
It is simply inappropriate for a CAFO of this size to operate in this sensitive, protected watershed.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has shared that he loves the Buffalo and wants to keep it healthy. The governor should uphold ADEQ’s final decision to deny C&H’s permit and keep this treasured national park site in good condition. Allowing C&H to continue spreading millions of gallons of waste in the watershed could do irreparable damage to the river and the regional tourism economy it supports.
Buffalo National River attracts nearly 1.5 million visitors annually who spend more than $60 million in nearby communities. These visitors float and fish the river, tour historic and prehistoric sites, and hike the parks’ 100 miles of trails. They spend money at local businesses, supporting many local jobs.
The Buffalo River Coalition, which includes the Ozark Society, the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, the Arkansas Canoe Club and the National Parks Conservation Association, has been working since 2012 to protect the Buffalo River from the C&H hog farm.
There are many other sites in Arkansas that could support a CAFO of C&H’s size — the state and the company must stop needlessly putting federally protected waters at risk.
More than 1,200 Comments Sent
NPCA supporters asked USDA Farm Service Agency to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement on C&H Hog Farms and the Buffalo River.
More than 190 Arkansas Supporters Took Action
Arkansas supporters sent comments to the USDA and SBA and urged them to take a hard look at the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the industrial hog farm.
More than 18,000 Spoke Up for the Buffalo River
National park advocates urged Arkansas officials to deny C&H Hog Farm, Inc.'s permit to continue operating in the Buffalo National River watershed.
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