The major party candidates for governor have had one joint appearance today and have another scheduled. No debate debates for Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross.
Here’s a summary of the first appearance from KNWA. I’d like to see more detail on this snippet:
On the issue of large scale hog farms, Ross voiced support of the need for this type of farm in Arkansas and claimed Hutchinson has said there’s no need for it.
I think it’s more accurate to say that Hutchinson has straddled this issue. He’s criticized the permitting process for the hog feeder operation in the Buffalo River watershed but has stopped far short of opposing the specific farm or ones like it. Which Ross himself has more or less said himself.
It wouldn’t do, I guess, for either candidate (and the desire by each to please the farm lobby) to say that there are some special places in this state — such as the porous limestone substrata of the Buffalo River watershed — unsuitable for mass production of pig manure.
Ross continued his advocacy for private option health insurance, Hutchinson continued to dodge.
UPDATE: The Ross campaign explains more fully.
Asa’s Exact Remarks from APA Debate:
“Quite frankly, I’m not sure we need large-scale hog operations in the state.”
Mike Ross’ position:
My opponent is out there running commercials about how much he supports agriculture. But, just two weeks ago, he said our state didn’t need large hog operations in Arkansas. Well, Congressman Hutchinson, I don’t think it’s the governor’s role to be picking winners and losers in agriculture here in Arkansas. What will you oppose next? Big poultry farms? Large cattle ranches?
Every Arkansan has a right to farm responsibly. As governor, I won’t pick winners and losers – I’ll protect the rights of all Arkansans to farm responsibly and make a living for their families and provide food and fiber to our state and nation.
Mike Ross’ remarks on hog farm from APA Debate:
We’ve got to recognize the Buffalo River is America’s first national river. We also have to recognize what it means to tourism in this state – and tourism is our state’s second largest industry. The process in which the permit was approved was a mistake. There should have been more input from the public. There should have been more public hearings. The people that live in that area who care deeply about the Buffalo River should have had more opportunities to be heard during that permitting process. I believe the permitting process, as a result of this, needs to be changed.
Having said that, the State of Arkansas approved the permit. The hog farmer hasn’t done anything wrong. He applied for a permit, and he received a permit. Governor Beebe is investing additional revenue in making sure testing is done to ensure there is no damage done to the environment as it relates to the Buffalo River from the hog farm. I will continue that testing as governor, and should that hog farm at any point in the future cause harm to the Buffalo National River or watershed, we will take appropriate actions at the time. So, we’re going to change the process and continue to monitor the existing farm there.