Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Mar. 15, 2012
In a brazen power grab threatening the livelihood of hundreds of small farmers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is using the state Invasive Species Act to expand its jurisdiction beyond hunting and fishing to farming operations. On April 1, 2012 an Invasive Species Order (ISO) that DNR issued in December 2010 prohibiting the possession of a number of different types breeds of swine will go into effect.
The order allows DNR 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.”
With the order taking effect in less than a month, four different lawsuits have been filed recently in Baraga, Gogebic, Marquette and Missaukee Counties to stop the implementation of the ISO. The farmer who filed the lawsuit in Missaukee County is Mark Baker, a retired Air Force veteran who raises the heritage breed Mangalitsa pigs on his farm in Marion, Baker’s Green Acres. In the words of Baker’s state Senator Darwin Booher, “When Mark Baker retired from the Air Force after protecting our nation for 20 years, he never thought he would be fighting his own state government to protect his family’s livelihood. Unfortunately, that is what is happening now”.