The Arkansas Rights Koalition, along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), sent a Notice of Intent to Sue to three federal agencies that would authorize over $1 million in funding for a large poultry operation in the Strawberry River Watershed of Izard County. The notice asserts that Farm Service Agency, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to adequately identify and analyze the Tracy Poultry Project’s effects on protected species in the area including endangered bats, mussels, and plants.
“Disregard for the fragile Strawberry River System, the protected species that rely upon it, and the right of rural citizens to a clean, healthy environment is the impetus of this notice,” said Curtis Middleton, president of ARK and a resident of Evening Shade. “This river system has been identified as an Extraordinary Resource Waterbody and a Natural and Scenic Waterway, which is home to a number of endangered and rare species. As such, these species should be afforded the level of protection necessary and required by law.”
The Strawberry River Watershed is home to seven species that are listed under the ESA as endangered or threatened. The notice states that the agencies failed to sufficiently identify these species and evaluate the potential adverse impact of the poultry operation, while also failing to consult proper agencies and use best available science.
Terry Spence, a farmer and regional representative for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, believes this notice letter is justified, and notes this is one of many situations in which federal agencies have neglected their duty to the environment and local communities.
“It has become a dangerous, common pattern for these agencies,” said Spence. “This is happening not only in Arkansas, but throughout the country where massive poultry facilities and other concentrated animal feeding operations are threatening the environment and the health of animals and many rural Americans.”
Spence shares citizen concerns for the impacts of not only the Tracy operation, but the hundreds of poultry barns being constructed in the northeast part of the state for projects such as the PECO processing plant in Pocahontas, and the Ozark Mountain Poultry plant in Batesville.
“I have toured the area in question, and anyone with common sense should foresee the devastation that will occur if this lack of oversight continues,” said Spence.
ARK and ALDF are asking the agencies for a plan to accurately assess potential impacts within 60 days, or they will follow through on the suit. A copy of the Notice of Intent to Sue Letter can be accessed here.
Notice was served on behalf of ARK and ALDF by Elisabeth Holmes, Blue River Law; Jessica Blome, Animal Legal Defense Fund; Sean Malone, The Law Offices of Sean T. Malone; and local counsel Ross Noland, Noland Law Firm of Little Rock, Arkansas.