LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Local environmental protection groups in Arkansas claimed a partial victory following approval of a ban on new medium and large hog farms in the Buffalo National River watershed, according to published reports. The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission voted in favor of the five-year ban on Aug. 28.

The only large-scale hog operation permitted in the watershed is C&H Hog Farms in Mt. Judea, although smaller operations already exist in the watershed. The company will not be affected by the ban, but its development sparked a movement to prevent additional hog farms being established in the area.

After C&H received a building permit in 2012 through an expedited process, residents near the hog farm and environmental groups contested the permit. Groups such as the Ozark Society argued that runoff from the farm or a lagoon failure would pose a risk to the water around the facility. The facility became operational in 2013.

“C&H washes out hog manure and other waste from their barns, collects it in clay-lined ponds, and then sprays it on fields, many of which are adjacent to Big Creek,” the Ozark Society said in a letter from 2013 seeking donations for its legal defense fund. “The farms and the fields are sited above a layer of Boone limestone that is almost certainly highly fractured and porous (called karst). Even during normal operation, the geologists tell us that it is highly likely that the waste, through leakage from the ponds and infiltration into the ground water from the fields, will reach Big Creek and then the Buffalo.”

The Univ. of Arkansas Division of Agriculture launched an impact study of C&H when the facility opened. The study, which will end one year before the end of the five-year ban, will serve as the basis for how the commission will proceed when the ban expires.