“This book is dedicated to three brave grandmothers – Carol Bitting, Lin Welford, and Dr. Nancy Haller – who have gone to court to try and stop the Buffalo River CAFO.”
So reads the opening sentence of the “Dedication” page in Pig Farm.
The three ladies were not well acquainted before attending a public comment hearing about modifying the original pig CAFO permit to allow a broader raw swine waste spraying range within the Buffalo River watershed.
They soon came together in their opposition to expanding previously approved containment areas and subjecting the Buffalo River to additional impairment. They ultimately hired an attorney and appealed the decision of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to amend the original permit, with the ultimate aim of getting the pig farm shut down. Ironically, ADEQ has since refused to renew the original operating permit, a decision currently being contested in court.
Sadly, Dr. Nancy passed away from an aggressive form of cancer before their appeal could be adjudicated, but Carol and Lin passionately soldier on. Both of them are avid canoeists and naturalists, and Carol lives on the Little Buffalo River, which will be directly impacted if the land farming expansion is ultimately approved.
Their own words say it best:
“How long can we feed the world if we wreck our land and water resources in the process?” — Lin Welford
“If we can’t protect a river that has been set aside as a national park, is any waterway in this country safe? — Dr. Nancy Haller
“Someone had to take a stand for the river and it seemed to each of us that it was our turn.” — Carol Bitting
The three grandmothers are not alone in their fight to save America’s first national river which has recently been added to the American National Rivers’ list of ten most endangered, but they are a powerful symbol of the passionate organizations and folks who have united to fight corporate agriculture’s incursion into the Buffalo River watershed.
This is not the first time river advocates have had to go to war to protect the Buffalo River. Efforts to dam the river in the 1950’s and 1960’s failed only because of grass roots resistance and persistence.
The Buffalo survives as one of the longest remaining free-flowing streams in the country because citizens said NO to the politicians, NO to the moneymen, NO to the short term exploiters. And, they won.
It is clearly time to say NO again and three grandmothers have stepped up to do so.
The Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, the White River Waterkeeper organization, The Ozark Society, and the Arkansas Canoe Club are among the many others engaged in saying NO as well.
Meanwhile Carol and Lin continue to prowl the waters below where Big Creek, the major tributary of the Buffalo along which the pig farm lays and sprays, and provide the attached disturbing images of degradation.
We on the sidelines owe them all a great debt of gratitude.
Coming Next, December 30th – LAST MAN STANDING