This could be the most expensive bacon ever: Pigs that have a price of $10,000 on their heads.
Problem is, the money is not going to the farmer; it’s being demanded from the farmer. By the state. Because they’re the wrong breed of pig.
According to a report from the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which advocates for policies that allow producers to deliver food products directly to Americans, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources alleges that there are 70 “illegal pigs” being raised by farmer Mark Baker.
Authorities say the animals, each and every one, are a violation of the state’s invasive species order. The state is demanding a fine of up to $10,000 per violation, or $700,000 for Baker’s actions in raising for sale 70 pigs “the state deems the wrong breed.”
It was just over a year ago when Baker sued the state over that invasive species order. He had raised the pigs for years, yet suddenly the state told him they were illegal.
The Defense Fund said supporters of food rights from around the country will gather at the Missaukee County Courthouse in Lake City, Mich., at 2 p.m. on July 12 for a hearing in the case.
The Defense Fund is providing Baker’s counsel.
“The ISO supposedly was issued so the state could get rid of feral pigs; but the way DNR is interpreting the order, it could be applied to any domestically raised hog, threatening the livelihood of small, family farming operations,” the group explained.
The state agency had announced it would decide whether a pig was allowed or not based on its physical characteristics.
The new rules, with the force of law, took effect April 1, 2012, and Baker has been fighting ever since.
“Because of the ISO, I have not been able to process or sell any pork in Michigan since April 2012 or sell the live pigs. This threatens the viability of my farm, my income and the health and well-being of my family,” Baker said. “This order denies consumers access to the foods of their choice and violates property rights and the right to make a living. Farmers and other hog owners in Michigan must either get rid of their now ‘prohibited’ property or become felons.”
Details of the ongoing battle are online at Bakers Green Acres.
WND previously reported the small pork producers were worried their fight with “Big Pork” in the state would not go well.
They warned the bureaucrats could simply by describing a type of pig outlaw it, costing the farmers their livelihoods.
At the time, Ed Golden, a spokesman for the state agency, said the state was trying to work with farmers who raised the now-banned animals to bring them into compliance with the new dictate.
Pete Kennedy of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund called the move a “brazen power grab” by the state.
“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is using the state Invasive Species Act to expand its jurisdiction beyond hunting and fishing to farming operations,” he said.
Kennedy said the DNR has issued its own order to allow agents to “seize and destroy heritage breeds of pigs that farmers are raising; and DNR will not compensate farmers whose pigs are destroyed. In the logic of the department, ‘Indemnification in (Michigan) statute is for livestock and invasive species are not livestock, and are therefore, not eligible for indemnification.’”
Kennedy said the Michigan Pork Producers Association “wants all pigs to be raised in confinement facilities, and the best way to achieve that is to make it illegal to raise certain swine, especially those offering alternatives to the white pork raised in confinement.’”
The state has listed a number of characteristics, including underbelly fur, tail structure, ear structure and skeletal appearance, that would define an animal as banned.
“Yet these are the very pigs that farmers and ranchers in Michigan have been raising for decades. The state doesn’t seem to care about this, and there are indications that this ISO may have been nudged into position by the conventional pork industry as a tactic to wipe out its competition of local, specialty ranching conducted by small families and dedicated farmers who don’t work for the big pork corporations.”