- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas legislative panel has passed a proposed five-year ban on new hog farms in the Buffalo National River watershed.

The Legislature’s Rules and Regulations Committee approved the ban on new medium and large hog farms on Wednesday with only one representative objecting, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1gYxI5q ) reported.

A final decision on the proposal could come during a meeting next week of the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission - the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s appellate body.

The ban is a compromise among environmental representatives, the Arkansas governor’s office and some state lawmakers.

Banning medium and large hog farms means no new facility could have more than 750 swine at the 55-pound level nor more than 3,000 swine coming in below the 55-pound level.

It would have no impact on C&H; Hog Farms that’s on Big Creek, six miles from where it meets the Buffalo River. Environmental groups have criticized the facility, claiming that it potentially could pollute the river with hog feces kept in lagoons or spread out as fertilizer on the rough karst terrain in the area.

The river is a popular tourist spot, with more than 1.3 million visitors who spent about $56.6 million at businesses in the area, according to National Park Service data.

The ban would require that, in five years, the Department of Environmental Quality’s director initiate a new rule-making process to delete the ban or making it permanent. It would allow the director, the commission and lawmakers to review a continuing study by the University of Arkansas System’s Agriculture Division on the environmental impact of C&H; Hog Farms in Mount Judea in the Buffalo River watershed.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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