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Sponsor pulls bill that would change how Arkansas hog farms get permits

by Emily Walkenhorst | March 27, 2019 at 12:26 p.m.

A bill that would change how concentrated animal feeding operations are permitted in Arkansas was pulled by its House sponsor Wednesday and moved to interim study.

The House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development committee approved the motion of Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, with no dissent.

Bentley said that although she was fine with the bill, she wanted to make sure her colleagues understood it.

Supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 550 debated for nearly an hour and 45 minutes about what the bill actually does.

The bill seeks to change the agency ultimately responsible for issuing permits to farms that have liquid animal manure systems — typically hog farms — from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

The commission would decide whether to permit farms’ liquid waste management systems and would issue permits approved by local conservation districts for liquid waste disposal. The commission also could overturn the disapproval of a disposal permit or a disapproval of part of one.

Currently, the commission reviews liquid waste disposal plans, formally called “nutrient management plans,” and determines whether they meet the commission’s standards. The plans are then submitted as part of farms’ operating permit applications to the Department of Environmental Quality.

Supporters of the bill expressed disappointment Wednesday, while opponents said pulling it was the right thing to do.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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