Jan Morgan, the Republican challenging Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has gone to war against the “environmental elitists” fighting the C and H Hog Farm in the Buffalo River watershed.
In the Facebook video, Morgan lands an interview with hog farm owner, Jason Henson, who isn’t widely available for press interviews. It is “absolutely false” to say he’s polluting the Buffalo River, he says. Hutchinson has spoken warmly of the Buffalo as an Arkansas treasure, once supported a moratorium on additional animal-feeding operations in the watershed and appointed a committee to study the situation.
That is enough room for Morgan to get well to the right of Hutchinson. And she has friends in the Arkansas Farm Bureau, among others. To her benefit, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, an executive agency, has declined to issue a new permit for the hog farm but it has been allowed to continue to operate during appeals.
Property rights can be a powerful political tool. In the video, you ‘ll see a cattle farmer saying
But pig shit and the Buffalo are also powerful images.
UPDATE: Re water quality in Big Creek, the Buffalo River beside which C and H
Almost a year ago, I left my position as a Senior Ecologist in ADEQ’s Water Quality Planning Branch, the section tasked with developing water quality standards and assessment methodologies for carrying portions of the Clean Water Act. With states required to assess the quality of their waters and compile a list of impaired waterbodies (those not meeting water quality standards), and the 2018 draft likely coming out in the next couple of weeks, I conducted some assessments on my own to see how streams in the White River watershed are faring.
It appears that Big Creek, below C&H Hog Farm, will be listed on the upcoming 2018 303(d) list of Impaired Waterbodies for failure to meet critical season dissolved oxygen standards. As the USGS continuous dissolved oxygen gage did not go in until 2014, it is not possible to discern whether C&H had any impact on this. But, dissolved oxygen problems are often related to nutrient enrichment. With over two million gallons of nutrient-rich swine waste spread within the watershed each year from C&H alone, it’s hard not to question whether C&H is significantly contributing to the problem.
A link to the full report can be found here.