A farmer’s letter
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