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A Breath of Fresh Air (Editorial)

2 min read

Bad facts, they say, make bad laws. Also bad generalities.

As a general rule, we don’t like government bailouts of private industries. We don’t like banks (and bank executives) engaging in risky behavior and being rewarded with bailouts and bonuses. We don’t like government-initiated trade wars that then require taxpayers to bail out blameless farmers who would much rather just sell their crops.

But we like Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan to buy out the owner of C&H Hog Farms.

C&H was legally permitted to operate near Mount Judea in the Buffalo River watershed. As everyone who has opened a newspaper in the past five years is surely aware, this stirred up a stink among lovers of the Buffalo and environmentalists.

Whether there is truly a health or environmental threat from modern hog farming techniques is almost beside the point. The very idea of hog farm runoff in the Buffalo is a public relations nightmare for a sparsely populated part of the state that depends on attracting tourists and their dollars. An eternal battle over hog waste and the Buffalo does no one any good, and the long-term cost could easily be more than the $6.2 million price of settling the dispute.

In announcing an agreement to buy the farm — up to $1 million will be donated by The Nature Conservancy — the governor stressed that the farm’s owners had done nothing wrong, blaming instead the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (under his predecessor, Mike Beebe). “[T]he state should never have granted that permit for a large-scale hog farm operation in the Buffalo River watershed,” Hutchinson told the Arkansas Municipal League earlier this month.

A moratorium on more hog farming in the watershed will prevent future disputes like this, and the farmers will have capital with which to start over in a more appropriate location.

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