40/29 has compiled formal statements from the three candidates for Third District Congress on the hog farm operating in the Buffalo River watershed. It’s a tricky issue, as you’ll see from the nuanced statements. You pick ’em.
Statement from Congressman Steve Womack’s (R) Office:
“Congressman Womack has continued to be supportive of both the efforts to ensure the Buffalo National River remains protected for the enjoyment of future generations and farmers who follow existing regulations governing agricultural land uses and practices.”
Statement from Josh Mahony (D):
“The Buffalo Riveras a $90 million impact on the region and supports 1,200 jobs. I’m interested in protecting and growing the largest economic driver and natural resource in the area. I fully support protecting the Buffalo, establishing no future hog farms, and working to potentially find an amicable way to relocate the hog farm that respects their rights as land owners.”
Statement from Michael Kalagias (L):
“The issue of the C&H hog farm operating in the Buffalo River watershed is primarily a state and local issue, not so much a federal one. I personally do not think it was a good idea to operate an industrial hog farm there, but that wasn’t my decision to make. The property owners have a right to make a living on their own property, so long as they aren’t harming others. That last distinction is important. Much of the groundwater and well water in Arkansas has been contaminated due to agricultural and other waste, and steps to prevent that should be taken. It is my understanding that C&H has taken such steps. As there have been many instances where similar operations have contributed to significant pollution accidents that have harmed others, it would be reasonable to require such operations to carry a bond or insurance in an amount that would cover any costs incurred in cleaning up any such foreseeable events where those prevention steps might fail. To use the government to arbitrarily shut down someone’s established business on their own land, however, would be an abuse of power that should never be tolerated in our constitutional republic founded on the principles of freedom and individual rights. I would suggest to the Sierra Club that they might more wisely spend their money purchasing land in the area to protect it, rather than trying to get the government to seize it from the rightful owners. This is a strategy that the Nature Conservancy uses quite effectively.”
Thanks to action last week by the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, the question of a permit for the farm — technically expired — has been kicked down the road for more hearings, a process that could extend a couple of years. Meanwhile, the hog waste will continue to flood into holding ponds and perhaps percolate through the limestone that underlies the region and into streams feeding the Buffalo. The pigs put out waste equivalent to that of a city of 25,000 365 days a year.