LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A northern Arkansas hog farm has been permitted to continue operating while it appeals the state’s decision to deny it a new permit in the Buffalo River’s watershed.
The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission granted C&H Hog Farm’s request for a stay as it appeals the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s decision earlier this month to deny the farm’s new operating permit.
C&H Hog Farms had applied for a new permit on liquid animal waste systems for the farm near Mount Judea.
The commission, which is the appellate body for the state’s environmental quality department, didn’t know whether it had jurisdiction to issue the stay, since the farm hadn’t filed an appeal yet.
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Attorneys representing the farm argued at a hearing Wednesday that refusing the request for a stay would lead to irreparable harm to the farmers’ livelihoods.
If the stay wasn’t approved, C&H Hog Farms would have had to submit plans to close its operations.
Whether the hog farm should be able to operate near the Buffalo River has been a contentious issue for almost six years. Opponents of the farm are concerned that manure will pollute the river.
The Department of Environmental Quality originally denied the farm’s permit because it said their application failed to provide critical information. The farmers have called the decision “politically motivated.”
“We feel that we’ve been treated unfairly, and we hope this will give us an opportunity to bring that to light,” said Jason Henson, a co-owner of C&H Hog Farms.
The farm’s operators must appeal by Feb. 10 in order to maintain the stay.