Residents of Mt. Judea, Ark., were surprised to learn recently that their peaceful community is about to become host to a hog farm that will house up to 6,503 hogs. Residents of the town, through a coalition of environmental groups, say that while notices about the development of the C&H Hog Farm may have been legally sufficient, few in town knew about the approval processes.
“What really set me off was the fact that it was a done deal by the time we heard about it,” says Gordon Watkins, a nearby farmer and president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, one of the groups in the coalition. “It had been done very quietly with no fanfare and even some neighbors of the property didn’t know about it until after the fact.” Watkins spoke with the Arkansas Times in Little Rock.
The environmental coalition has sued two federal agencies that backed the loan to build the facility, alleging that the Farm Services Agency and the Small Business Administration failed to do adequate environmental assessments and offer adequate public notice. The coalition has also been sharply critical of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the state permitting process that approved the facility, though it hasn’t sued the state so far, Times reporter David Ramsey said.
The notice for the federal agencies was published in an edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette not widely available in the affected area, though there is a local community newspaper in the area. State law required the ADEQ notice only to be carried on the agency’s website, which it was. PNRC is monitoring the case for possible future action.
Hog farm near the Buffalo River stirs controversy – The Arkansas Times, Little Rock (8.15.2013)
Hutchinson: More Notice Needed On Hog Farm, Other Projects – Northwest Arkansas Online, Fayetteville, Ark., (9.7.2013)
Groups Go to Court to Protect Buffalo National River from Factory Hog Farm Waste – press release (8.6.2013) | A copy of the lawsuit is here
What are surrounding states doing regarding public notice?