Case Number # 2542
A coalition of conservation and citizen groups, represented by Earthjustice, have sent a notice of intent to sue to the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its Farm Service Agency’s loan guarantee for an industrial 6,500-pig swine facility on the banks of a tributary that flows straight into the Buffalo National River—an action that was not properly examined and may violate the Endangered Species Act. The facility, C&H Hog Farms, is under contract with Cargill, an international producer and marketer of agricultural products.
Designated in 1972 by President Richard Nixon as America's first national river, the Buffalo National River travels freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. The river watershed is home to over 300 species of fish, insects, freshwater mussels, and aquatic plants, including the endangered snuffbox mussel, the endangered Gray bat, and the endangered Indiana bat. A popular camping, canoeing, and fishing destination, the Buffalo National River attracts more than one million visitors a year.
C&H Hog Farms received a loan, 90 percent of it guaranteed by the FSA, for the purchase of 23.43 acres of land in Mount Judea, Arkansas, and for construction of two barns. The barns would house an estimated 6,500 pigs, making it by far the largest of six existing swine farms in the Buffalo River Watershed. Plans are to spread the estimated two million gallons of waste produced by the C&H facility on seventeen fields totaling 630 acres. Eleven fields are adjacent to Big Creek, a large tributary of the Buffalo National River.
The C&H facility’s loan and guarantee were issued in the summer and fall of 2012. Because of a failure to notify local residents, however, the community in and around Mount Judea did not find out about the facility’s construction until this year. The lack of adequate public notice is just one of a number of egregious failures on the part of the state and federal government to ensure that this facility will not have detrimental impacts on the exceptional natural resources of the Buffalo River watershed.
Earthjustice and Earthrise are representing the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Ozark Society in sending the notice of intent to the USDA.