KOLR-10 TV in Springfield/Branson landed a rare interview with Jason Henson, co-owner of the C and H Hog Farm in Mount Judea, which is fighting to keep a permit for its factory hog feeding operation near a major tributary of the Buffalo River.
Henson says science is on his side — that the operation is not endangering the Buffalo River.
KOLR said Henson decided to talk with the station because he’d decided its recent report on a state decision to allow the farm to continue operation despite a decision against a new permit for an expanded operation was “fair and balanced.”
Jason Henson says he’s a ninth generation farmer, so he understands what this area means to the community. And, the last thing he says he wants to do, is cause the beloved Buffalo River any harm.
But Henson feels it’s falling on deaf ears. “Unfortunately people are looking over the science and listening to emotion. I think it’s political. Because the science is there to prove that we’re not doing anything wrong. I mean what else could it be?”
Henson says the ADEQ (Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) told him he did not provide all that was needed to get the permit. However, when he asked for specifics…
“We actually went and met with them and they told us to basically read through 19,000 comments and figure it out ourselves.”
Henson says after pleading with the ADEQ, they finally asked him to provide a list of technical things that he says are recommendations, not requirements..and no other hog farmer in Arkansas has ever been asked to provide this.
The Arkansas Farm Bureau has been publicizing the interview. The C and H debate is about far more than that hog farm, it fears, and could be used elsewhere to restrict farming operations. There’s little doubt that an identical operation anywhere else in the state would have generated the same attention, but the Buffalo River has even brought many Republicans around to the side of tight regulation. Opponents say the fractured limestone below the surface in the hog farm area allows leaks of hog waste to migrate into the water table and the national river. Defenders contend there’s a lack of evidence this has happened and says pollution in the river is caused by many other factors, including tourists.
UPDATE: Opponents of the hog farm take issue with Henson, including in a filing Friday with state pollution regulators. They
C&H is applying 2.5 million gallons of untreated liquid hog poop on fields that border Big Creek each year. Nitrogen and other indicators of pollution are increasing in Big Creek. When confronted with the science, best they can come up with is not that there is no pollution in Big Creek, but that it is possible the pollution could be from another source, such as a wild hog or squirrel or tourists.