"For environmentalists, the development of the Mount Judea (pronounced Judy) hog farm provides a stark example of what they see as lax oversight of such farms by state and federal regulators. Many of them were dismayed last year, for instance, when the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew proposed regulations that would have required all concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to submit 'basic operational information' and would have increased the number of such farms that require permits," Eligon writes. "But C&H Hog Farms has many supporters, who say that these farms have long dotted the watershed without causing major environmental damage. They argue that the owners of C&H followed all the required steps to obtain a permit and will do all they can to make sure that the farm does not hurt the ecosystem." (NYT map)
The concern, among many, is the 1.5 million gallons of hog manure the farm produces annually, with the manure "stored in large lagoons and sprayed as fertilizer on nearby fields, some of them close to the Big Creek," Eligon writes. "Ten of the 17 fields that will receive fertilizer will have dangerously high phosphorous levels within a year, Kevin Cheri, the superintendent of the Buffalo River for the National Park Service, wrote in a letter to the Farm Service Agency. Environmentalists also worry that rain could cause the manure to run off into streams and creeks."
Supporters "argue that unlike the small operations that have been common throughout the watershed, this one uses more environmentally friendly technology to prevent pollution," Eligon writes. "For one thing, the lagoons holding the waste are larger than required and use a clay liner that will prevent leakage, supporters have said. C&H was the first — and still the only — hog farm in the state approved through a new general permit that officials created for CAFOs to comply with federal rules. That permit did not require the strict procedures for notifying neighbors required for other agricultural permits in the state." (Read more)