Senator Terry Rice recently took a stand during a meeting of the Arkansas Legislative Council for, as he called it, the “little guy.” This, in response to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s million dollar request for the conservation of the Buffalo River.
The move comes after the state settled a 6 million dollar payout to C&H Hog Farms. The owners purchased a permit, and were in complete compliance. However, activists rallied against the farm claiming it would pollute the Buffalo River.
Hutchinson signed an executive order in late September, creating the Buffalo River Conservation Committee, chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture.
When the Arkansas Legislative Council met, Rice stated, “I am not against helping the Buffalo or any other river in keeping clean water.” Adding, that the governor’s request could run the small farmers out of business.
Rice, Vice-Chairman of the ALC, shared his concerns about the little farms. “There is a lot of difference in big farming operations, row cropping thousands of acres, …and the little guy who can’t even take off from his two house chicken farm to come to Little Rock to be engaged.” He went on to add, that the future is his main concern, noting red flags with involvement from multiple agencies, including the Environmental Quality Director, and Parks and Tourism Director. “Where is the voice in that for the small farmer…that is what is concerning to me.”
State Representative Marcus Richmond responded to the committee’s action, stating:
I never saw any scientific evidence indicating the nature and amount of pollution supposedly caused by the (C&H) hog farm. There were plenty of claims made by different groups, but those groups were pursuing their agenda to close down the farm. Groups of activists were able to weaponize government, and the result is every farmer in Arkansas will have to be looking over their shoulder from now on because they may be the next target. Every acre of Arkansas is a watershed. So what is next? The Fourche, the Ouachita, or Red River? If this issue was really about pollution of the Buffalo River and the need to clean it up, then these environmental groups would be demanding that the river be closed to human activity. Humans on the river is the biggest source of
pollution. I will never stop fightingfor our farmers!”
The discussion also drew concerns from other lawmakers including Senator Jimmy Hickey (R) from Texarkana and Senator Missy Irvin (R) from Mountain View. By a voice vote, the council voted to withhold the money until the governor’s office and state officials could meet with elected representatives from the Buffalo watershed.