BUFFALO RIVER, Ark. — In the midst of controversy over the location of a hog farm near the Buffalo River in Arkansas, the owners of that farm have been hesitant to speak with the media, citing concerns their true intentions might be misrepresented.
But those owners decided to allow KOLR10’s Chrystal Blair on their property near Mt. Judea for a one on one interview because when Chrystal did a story last week on them being given an extension to operate a little longer, they felt KOLR10’s coverage was fair and balanced.
The co-owner of C & H Hog Farm is Jason Henson. He says they have filed an appeal, before the February 10, deadline they were given last week.
The big issue is that opponents of C & H say the farm is too close to the Buffalo River and they are concerned about hog waste flowing into the river. But Henson says weekly inspections of his farm prove he’s doing nothing wrong.
“We started getting multiple inspections to make sure that we were doing everything correctly and they even called the EPA out of Dallas to come and inspect us. We were doing things to the letter of the law so they didn’t find any violations.”
Jason Henson says he’s a ninth generation farmer, so he understands what this area means to the community. And, the last thing he says he wants to do, is cause the beloved Buffalo River any harm.
But Henson feels it’s falling on deaf ears. “Unfortunately people are looking over the science and listening to emotion. I think it’s political. Because the science is there to prove that we’re not doing anything wrong. I mean what else could it be?”
Henson says the ADEQ (Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) told him he did not provide all that was needed to get the permit. However, when he asked for specifics…
“We actually went and met with them and they told us to basically read through 19,000 comments and figure it out ourselves.”
Henson says after pleading with the ADEQ, they finally asked him to provide a list of technical things that he says are recommendations, not requirements..and no other hog farmer in Arkansas has ever been asked to provide this.
“In the book they are stating.. citing, it basically says it’s all considerations and recommendations. It does not say anywhere that you have to do these things. And when I talked to my engineer … the engineer of the plan … he basically said that’s all the engineers’ discretion.”
Opponents of Henson are wondering why C & H was given the initial permit back in 2012. And now Henson is asking the same question, after shelling out $4 million to get his hog farm up and running.
“If they didn’t issue me a permit to start with, the bank wouldn’t have let me borrow the money,” Henson said. “I mean we’re just true farmers that have worked for everything that we got and we hate to see the government be able to just jerk out from under you with no rhyme or reason.”
Henson says they do have a tentative hearing set for February 6th. KOLR10 also plans to reach out to the ADEQ and The Buffalo River Alliance to get more information from their side of this ongoing controversy.