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Newton County Hog Farm Concerns Subject of Public Hearing

Environmentalists say the C & H Hog Farm in Mt. Judea raises red flags for a national river in the area.
HARRISON, AR (KOLR) - The Arkansas Pollution Control And Ecology Commission is holding a public hearing tonight in Harrison to talk about a regulation that would ban large hog farms in the Buffalo River watershed.

The proposed law would ban farms with 750 or more hogs weighing over 55 pounds and farms with 3,000 or more hogs weighing less than 55 pounds.

The proposal wouldn't shut down existing farms but would ban an increase in the number of hogs at those facilities.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Durand Conference Center at North Arkansas College. 

The debate stems from controversy surrounding a large private hog farm near Mt. Judea (Newton County) in the Buffalo River watershed.

Critics of C & H Hog Farm, a breeding facility capable of housing 6,500 sows and piglets, say their community should have been notified before the farm was built.

But the farm's owner, Jason Henson, said he followed all of the state's rules and regulations, and went to great expense to do so. His $4 million dollar facility is considered a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) by the state, but by modern standards it is relatively small.

The 630 acre farm has a specially compacted lagoon system that can withstand 270 days worth of rain and wastewater based on the area's yearly average. 

But opponents say the permitting process did not take into consideration that a national river is nearby.

"It's the single most important recreational resource in this entire region, and a huge hog production facility is just incompatible with it," said Joe Neal, a biologist and member of the group Friends of the River. "If you don't want any type of permitted facilities in that watershed, you're going to have to enact laws to do that."

"We don't have the authority to deny a permit just because it's in a watershed that we would rather it not be in," said Teresa Marks with Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

Last year, the Fayetteville City Council unanimously passed a resolution against the hog farm.

Tonight's meeting on the proposed law will not deal with getting rid of the existing C&H Hog Farm, but rather the regulation of any future operations.

Meeting notice: HEARING SET IN HARRISON ON PROPOSED 3RD-PARTY REGULATION CHANGES FOR REGS. 5 AND 6
Date:     Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Location City:     Harrison
Location County:     Boone
Location Detail:     Durand Conference Center Room A; North Ark. College; 303 N. Main Street
Start Time:     6:00 PM
End Time:     8:00 PM
All Day Event:     No
Meeting Type:     Hearing
Meeting Type Other:     
Media Division:     Administration
Other Media/Divisions Involved:     
ADEQ Contact:     Doug Szenher doug@adeq.state.ar.us

Meeting Memo:
The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission (APC&EC) will hold a public hearing in Harrison June 17, 2014, to receive comments on a third-party proposal by the Ozark Society and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel (Petitioners) to change APC&EC Regulations 5 and 6: Liquid Animal Waste Systems, and Regulations for State Administration of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, respectively. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the Durand Conference Center, Room A, at North Arkansas College, 303 N. Main St., Harrison.
     
The deadline for submitting written comments on the proposed changes is 4:30 p.m. (Central Time), July 1, 2014.
     
State law and APC&EC regulations provide that outside parties may petition APC&EC to initiate rulemaking to adopt or amend APC&EC regulations. The APC&EC’s action to initiate the rulemaking process does not constitute an endorsement of the proposed changes. The APC&EC will act on the proposed changes after Petitioners and ADEQ respond to comments submitted during the public comment period.
     
The proposed changes seek to prohibit the ADEQ from issuing Regulation 5 permits for Confined Animal Operations, and Regulation 6 permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, for facilities in the Buffalo National River Watershed with either 750 or more swine weighing 55 pounds or more, or 3,000 or more swine weighing less than 55 pounds. The proposed regulation changes do not impact the status of existing facilities. The regulation changes will prohibit an increase in the number of swine at existing facilities in the Buffalo National River Watershed.
     
Detailed copies of the proposed regulation change, along with supporting documents and summary information, are available for public inspection during normal business hours in the Public Outreach and Assistance Division, located on the second floor of ADEQ’s North Little Rock Office, 5301 Northshore Drive, and in ADEQ information depositories located in public libraries at Clinton, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Harrison, Mountain Home, Russellville, the main branch of the Little Rock Public Library, 100 Rock Street, and the Arkansas State Library, 900 West Capitol, Suite 100, Little Rock, AR.
     
In addition, summary information concerning the proposal is available at other ADEQ information depositories located in public libraries at Arkadelphia, Batesville, Blytheville, Camden, Crossett, El Dorado, Forrest City, Helena, Hope, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Monticello, Mena, Pocahontas, Searcy, Stuttgart, Texarkana, and West Memphis; and in campus libraries at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Central Arkansas at Conway. Copies of the proposed changes and related documents information also are available on the ADEQ’s website: www.adeq.state.ar.us.
     
The APC&EC will accept oral and written comments on the proposed changes to at the hearing, but written comments are preferred in the interest of accuracy. In addition, written and electronic comments will be considered if received no later than 4:30 p.m. (Central Time), July 1, 2014. Written comments should be sent to Doug Szenher, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Public Outreach and Assistance Division, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118. Electronic comments should be sent to reg-comment@adeq.state.ar.us.
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