Health Impact News Editor Comments:
In a stunning reversal of events, Jill Baker is reporting that the Michigan DNR has suddenly declared that all their pigs are “legal,” and that they are now free to resume their heritage hog operation after two years of persecution by government officials in Michigan.
The Michigan DNR put many small-scale family farms out of business in 2012 by ruling that their heritage pigs were “feral” and illegal, by adopting a new definition of “feral.” This new definition of “feral swine” adopted by the DNR in 2012 came directly from the commercial pork industry, which raises all commercial pork indoors in confinement. Most farms complied and killed off their herds, rather than face criminal prosecution.
Mark Baker and Bakers Green Acres family farm resisted and fought a long costly legal battle for two years, while losing their hog business as the USDA refused to process their pigs. Their meeting in court this week was attended by many supporters, as their story had national exposure. We have covered this story since its inception in 2012, and you can read the background here .
The results are in
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
That’s the best way I can think of to describe what happened in court today. Charles Dickens’ description of pre-revolutionary France in A Tale of Two Cities fits nicely with our experience.
It started with meeting, at long last, Harold Martin, the Attorney General’s representative for the DNR. He refused to shake Mark’s hand in greeting. He refused to show due respect to our national flag, and went out of his way to mock the crowd for saying the pledge of allegiance and saluting the flag. He displayed unprofessional behavior by confronting, insulting, otherwise offending the peaceful folks who came to observe the legal proceedings. While this is certainly his right, it does lead people to wonder about the attorney their tax money is supporting. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best first impression we’ve ever had of someone.
The next message from Mr. Martin was that, on the basis of one pig, the DNR now feels that all our pigs are legal. Despite the fact, he stated, that our pigs are Russian Boar hybrids (clearly prohibited in the ISO) is OK with the DNR and our pigs are legal. This is a complete turnaround from everything they’ve stated to date and left our jaws on the table. However, the net result was that it gave the judge little choice but to state that there was no longer a conflict. The practical questions were still on the table, but the legal status was changed with Harry’s statement. There was no more disagreement about whether or not the Invasive Species Order applied to us—we both agreed that it should not apply. The judge chose to ignore the Declaratory Ruling, which almost perfectly describes our pigs.
This turnabout on the part of the DNR was an admission of “uncle.” Their regulation is so incredibly subjective that they could just wave a magic wand and make our pigs “legal” and so avoid explaining themselves under oath. They were desperate not to have to make their case. This eleventh hour move shows their cowardice and their bully nature.
Practically, this is what the ruling means:
1) Our pigs are “legal” and therefore we can go back to business as usual. We can take our pigs to a USDA butcher without fear of refusal due to the ISO. We can sell weaned pigs this spring and they can’t go after our customers.
2) This only applies to us, not to anyone else who wonders if their pigs are legal or not.
3) We still don’t have clarification on what a “feral pig” or “old world swine” is. We still don’t know if we are a domestic hog producer per the DNR’s legally binding subjective opinion.
4) We get no compensation of any sort for the last two and a half years worth of lost business and livelihood.
We are talking about our options. We did not give up. It was forced on us. We still do not intend to give up, to roll over, to “comply.” The other thing we know is that Truth and Life will be vindicated in the end, whatever end it may be.
Thank-you to all the dedicated Americans who have stood beside us in so many ways. Your prayers, notes, and support have brought us this far. We intend to continue to stand, in one way or another, for our collective rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thank-you!
Read the Full Story here .