A farmer’s let­ter

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - Mike Master­son Mike Master­son’s col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette. Email him at mmas­ter­son@arkansason­line.com.

The Arkansas Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity (wheeze) has ex­tended its pub­lic com­ment pe­riod un­til April 6.

That means those who haven’t ex­pressed thoughts about is­su­ing that pro­posed new op­er­at­ing per­mit, which would al­low C&H Hog Farms to con­tinue spread­ing tons of raw waste in our Buf­falo Na­tional River wa­ter­shed, still have an op­por­tu­nity to write the agency and our gov­er­nor.

Here’s a lightly edited let­ter re­cently sent to the gov­er­nor from a Madi­son County farmer who shared a copy. His mes­sage speaks for many.

“Gov­er­nor Hutchin­son, You are cav­ing to ob­vi­ous spe­cial in­ter­ests for the eco­nomic gains of a few while po­ten­tially ru­in­ing the crown jewel for tourism, our state’s No. 2 in­dus­try. This is a huge mis­take and a ter­ri­ble legacy to leave for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. How can you jus­tify do­ing this? You al­low a cor­po­ra­tion from an­other coun­try to con­tinue to take ad­van­tage of what lit­tle we have in Arkansas, likely pol­lut­ing our air and wa­ter, to raise meat and ship the meat back out of the coun­try.

“We’ve lived with this for gen­er­a­tions now with the poul­try in­dus­try, and the creeks and rivers have been in­un­dated with phos­pho­rus and ni­tro­gen to where we can no longer swim in some streams dur­ing the sum­mer. Now you are go­ing to risk this hap­pen­ing by sup­port­ing the hog in­dus­try in the Buf­falo Na­tional River wa­ter­shed?

“What on earth, Gov­er­nor? You, and only you, can stop this. Gov­er­nor Huck­abee stopped the Hobbs Moun­tain Land­fill that would have drained into the White River after 10 years of lit­tle peo­ple hold­ing pie sup­pers, quilt raf­fles and other fundrais­ers to stop that likely dis­as­ter from un­fold­ing. For those long years peo­ple near that moun­tain with lit­tle power fought for their right to be able to con­tinue to live where their fam­i­lies had been for gen­er­a­tions with a sim­ple yet high qual­ity of life.

“Now you can stop the pos­si­ble car­nage of an­i­mal fac­tory waste caus­ing a dra­matic de­crease in wa­ter qual­ity of the Buf­falo River.

“How can you sleep? Peo­ple shouldn’t have to live with this. Tourism shouldn’t have to take a hit be­cause of cor­po­rate fac­tory con­fined an­i­mal pro­duc­tion. Asa, this is not farm­ing! This is akin to the rape of our state by out­side cor­po­ra­tions ar­gu­ing that fac­tory con­fined an­i­mal pro­duc­tion is good for Arkansas.

“The few jobs these fac­to­ries cre­ate can only have me­nial tax ben­e­fits for the state’s cof­fers and cre­ate a hand­ful of jobs. Fac­tory farm­ing helps a few at the po­ten­tial ex­pense of many. Mean­while, the wa­ter and air of Arkansas that be­longs to ev­ery­one take a hit while hav­ing such a neg­a­tive eco­nomic im­pact for tourism. It sim­ply doesn’t make sense.

“You, our Gov­er­nor, have the abil­ity to stop this. It’s not beyond your pow­ers. You need to step up, ex­plain that this is not tra­di­tional farm­ing in any sense. Ex­plain that this is an out­side cor­po­rate “tak­ing” of our state’s as­sets while dev­as­tat­ing com­mu­ni­ties, fur­ther low­er­ing the wa­ter qual­ity of the state, and it is was a bad de­ci­sion to al­low this fac­tory to go in there in the first place.

“Gov­er­nor Beebe said it was his big­gest re­gret dur­ing his ten­ure. You can leave a bet­ter legacy by be­ing the gov­er­nor who stood up to cor­po­rate farm­ing on the Buf­falo while pro­tect­ing the crown jewel of Arkansas. You can do this. You need to. Do not let this new per­mit with less strin­gent guide­lines be ap­proved. Stand for the peo­ple and the bet­ter good of our en­tire state.

“Fi­nally, know I’ve farmed here on fam­ily acreage for 35 years. I’ve milked a cow every morn­ing, raised and butchered three hogs every fall, have a small cow/calf op­er­a­tion, put up 500 quarts of food, raised chick­ens for meat and eggs and goats for brush man­age­ment.

“All the while all I’ve pre­served wa­ter qual­ity on prime Arkansas land with nine springs cre­at­ing a year-round creek run­ning through it. I know good land stew­ard­ship can be ac­com­plished while farm­ing and pro­duc­ing food. You do too. Step up, stop what I be­lieve is the in­evitable cor­po­rate degra­da­tion of our state’s air and wa­ter. Step up for the ru­ral peo­ple who want to con­tinue to live on their prop­erty with a qual­ity of life that we’ve had for the his­tory of our state. We all must eat, but don’t have to de­stroy our en­vi­ron­ment to do so.

“Step up to big busi­ness and pro­tect our nat­u­ral ar­eas that have proven to im­prove our econ­omy with tourism by main­tain­ing the high­est qual­ity of air and wa­ter. Step up for the lit­tle peo­ple, who don’t have enough money and power to fight these big cor­po­ra­tions. Do the right thing and stand for what’s best for Arkansas in the long term. You can do this.

“It’s a huge mo­ment for you to make a state­ment of the kind of man you are. Let it be known for­ever that you stood with Dr. Neil Comp­ton, Se­na­tor Ful­bright, Se­na­tor Bumpers, Con­gress­man Ham­mer­schmidt, Ken Smith and with all the com­mon peo­ple of Arkansas to pro­tect the glo­ri­ous Buf­falo River.

“Step up, Gov­er­nor Hutchin­son, and be one of Arkansas’ he­roes. I be­lieve in my heart if you are true to your­self and to the peo­ple of our state, you will do the right thing here. Show us what you stand for. Thank you.”— Larry Kari­gan-Win­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.