Mark’s done a few speaking/radio things lately.
Here’s a great interview he did with David Janda. He talked about where we’ve been and where we all need to head to nip problems like the DNR’s ISO in the bud.
Here’s a video of a speech he gave to the Tea Party’s Powwow, talking about the next step in the war. As we go into this next election cycle we need to carefully screen the candidates on a very important topic: the Constitution. Michigan You Have a Leadership Problem.
The pigs are having their babies! The weather is not what we’d hoped for at the beginning of April, but you take what you get in Northern Michigan. Here are some of Sam’s pic.s of the mamas and babies.
Two sows “bagged up” and ready to have their babies.
Several of the sows tag teamed to make their nests and have their babies. They will share babysitting duties later.
Note the curled back ears. They straighten out after a few days. These guys will be ready to go about the beginning of June. They will be ready for butcher summer/fall of 2015. It feels good to be back in the most-excellent-pork business!
Now we just need some sunny, warm days!
“Solka’s ruling says the order is arbitrary, unreasonable and denies the hog owners equal protection under the law.”
At last we can truly say, “TOLD YA SO!” Thanks to everyone who participated in this victory in big and small ways.
Last night we had a great time with the Weston A Price chapter in Grand Rapids. It’s always good to see Kelly “the Kitchen Kop” again, and we met lots of interesting new folks. That’s a thing we’ve discovered in our time with Weston Price folks: poor health improved by good eating happens in a lot of interesting people! They are often people who have a keen interest in doing things in life and don’t believe poor life should hamper them. They are people of passion, and good food is one of those passions.
Last night we shared with them some things folks can still do to help our cause. Because this is not about pigs in Michigan. It’s about your right to be secure in your property and effects. It’s about due process of law. It’s about equal protection under the law. It’s about being free from excessive fines and penalties. Here are some things you can do:
1) Help Baker’s Green Acres finish the battle by donating to our Legal Defense fund at the pledgie button up above. There are still bills to pay and legal wrangling to do before it’s really all over.
2) Pre-buy the Hogwash: An American Pig Tale movie. Help the filmmaker finish the story. “Buy Now” at that button in the upper right corner.
3) Keep up to date with Michigan farm politics with the Michigan Small Farm Council: www.MichiganSmallFarmCouncil.org. Speaking to your Michigan Representatives and Senators is important. They need to know that the people who vote care.
4) Join the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. They will keep you up-to-date with National Issues and they help small farmers like us defend your right to good food. www.FarmtoConsumer.org
5) Buy direct from farmers and/or grow your own. It doesn’t take much to convert one flower bed into food—edible flowers if nothing else! Buy your produce, fruit, and meats in season and shake the hand of the person who grew it. That is ultimate food security and health.
6) Invest in your own education. Check out Anyone Can Farm to learn how to grow food or work with real food. You can grow your own or at least become an informed consumer to ensure you are getting the best food possible for your family. www.AnyoneCanFarm.com
Food is political activism in this day and age. Become involved somehow, whether you write a Senator or cast a vote with your dollars.
You can make a difference.
Winter is winding down at last! We have enjoyed the warmer temperatures and sunshine the last few days. The deep cold and deep snow of this particular season have been challenging—a real reminder of what winter in northern Michigan really is supposed to be!
The cows have done fairly well. Winter is a special challenge for dairy cows because so much of their energy Read the rest of this entry »
I found this gem in National Treasure last night. It’s a powerful scene that says a lot about who we have become as Americans. The Constitution is not a “living document” that can be changed in Orwellian fashion to serve the need of the moment. This is the root of the issues we’ve had with the State of Michigan: an overbearing bureaucracy that makes up it’s own rules with no accountability. This picture from Senator Mike Lee demonstrates the problem:
“Behold my display of the 2013 Federal Register. It contains over 80,000 pages of new rules, regulations, and notices all written and passed by unelected bureaucrats. The small stack of papers on top of the display are the laws passed by elected members of Congress and signed into law by the president.”
We continue to maintain that unConstitutional laws must be challenged and the lawmakers who allow it must be removed from office. This is Mark’s response:
Prepay for your copy of HOGWASH: THE AMERICAN PIG TALE at the “Buy Now” button at the top right of this page. Your pre-payment will allow the final stages of this documentary to be completed and will help in our efforts to organize and replace some of Michigan’s elected officials, lawmakers and bureaucrats that are ignoring the Constitutional Rights of the People. Please help if you can, by purchasing a copy of the DVD and then sharing the link to do so with others. Thank you!
Baker’s Green Acres, a domestic family farm operation, has been all but destroyed over the last 2+ years due to government harassment, threats and an unconstitutional Invasive Species Order and Declaratory Ruling from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
However, on February 26th, 2014, the DNR and Attorney General’s office conceded that Baker’s pigs are no longer illegal. Their reversal on their stance with Baker’s pigs was a move to avoid going to trial where they would have been forced to explain their selective enforcement under oath. It also resulted in a ruling that there would be no damages awarded to Mark and his family. But, that doesn’t mean it’s over.
Now is the time to hold our leaders of the State of Michigan responsible for their actions. From the DNR to the Attorney General’s office to the Governor’s office, we have been let down time and time again. The elected officials and bureaucrats that are not representing the Constitution of the people must be replaced. The agenda’s they are serving are that of Corporate and self interests, not that of the people. We the People have the power to change that, as this is an election year. But, we must act now!
Please watch this powerful video put together by Baker’s Green Acres to understand where this issue stands today. If you prepay $25 now, you will receive a DVD of Hogwash The American Pig Tale before this year’s elections. Just click on the “Buy Now” button at the right. Your help is necessary to finish the documentary and to continue our work toward preserving our constitutional rights in Michigan. Thank you in advance for helping protect the people!
Baker’s Green Acres
Well, I’m ready to start telling you about the best tasting chicken in the North that we raise. Or the sweet milk our dairy cows give. Or the rich, flavorful roasts from our grass-fed beef. I’d like to talk about what we do and how you can be a part of that wholesome goodness.
But I still have pigs to discuss. Today I offer you someone else’s thoughts. David Gumpert wrote a fantastic blog in which he lays out the underlying issues of attitude and method used by our government toward us. Mr Martin simply typified their approach. Here’s his article:
Sam caught Frank and the potato plant in the same mode: looking for sun and spring!
The Jersey dairy cows soak in the winter sun.
The cat wonders where all the birds went! Maybe if he sits still enough they’ll come back.
We’re just glad to see the sun!! And looking forward to ordering baby chicks, welcoming baby pigs, and watching the grass shoot up for the cows.
“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 (formerly prohibited in the ISO but apparently not now) 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!
This is a link to an interview Mark did for a reporter with Infowars. Whatever you think of Alex Jones, I’m posting this because it’s a great synopsis of the situation we’re in with the State of Michigan, and because the reporter puts it in perspective so well at the end. Mark’s interview starts at about the 15 minute mark.
Today is not a pretty day. There’s ice, snow, wind, snow on ice, wind, ice. The animals are hunkered down in their shelters and straw. Even the little birds are no where to be seen.
The roads are hairy, no doubt about it. When we got to our hearing in Lake City the visibility was just a bit better than nothing by the lake. The roads were icy but drivable. We got there about half an hour early and stopped by a local gas station for coffee before heading to the courtroom. We discovered the room was nearly full 20 minutes ahead of time. There was the couple, 80 years old, who came from Lansing. There were many friends from Midland. Others had arrived from Manistee, Gladwin, Houghton Lake, Tustin, and around the corner (in Lake City). From all over the state, people who care about our rights and freedom had braved the winter weather to listen to the arguments.
Then we got the news. The roads were too hairy for Harry. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources attorney, a prior 20 year resident of Michigan’s wintery Upper Penninsula, was unable to attend. He was still a long way out (over 1 hour on good roads) 20 minutes before the hearing was to begin. And there was this accident. And he just couldn’t make it. The judge valued the integrity of the proceedings today and felt an unflustered attorney should be present for both sides. So he adjourned the hearing until next Wed., Feb. 26, at 1:00.
This hearing was important. It involved a Motion for Dismissal, a potential game ender. Our attorney looked at the weather and chose to drive from Marquette on yesterday’s ice to avoid today’s blizzard on ice conditions. She was prepared. She was focused. She was present.
And she’ll be back next Wednesday.
Details for the hearing this Friday, Feb. 21:
Time: 3 p.m.
Place: Missaukee County Courthouse
111 Canal St. Lake City, MI
Welcome to the winter farm!
For all our local folks, there will be a hearing on Friday, February 21, regarding the DNR/AG’s motion for dismissal. They are saying our pigs are in “compliance” and the case should all be dismissed. We’d like for them to explain how one video showing striped baby pigs makes our pigs “legal.” They will also get to explain to our lawyer and the judge how they’ve never seen our whole herd and yet have determined that we’re magically within the law now. It’ll be lawyer vs. lawyer and promises to be interesting. We’d like to have all 80 seats of the courtroom filled, so come and stand (well, hopefully you can sit!) as a witness to the DNR’s foolishness.
As I say that, I’m reminded of a scene in Tale of Two Cities. It’s actually several scenes, but in them all, as Robespiere and his wife are talking to customers in their tavern, out in the streets, etc., his wife is all the time quietly knitting. We find out later that the silent witness is the one that is recording all the wrongs and who-dunnits used later to convict the “noble” class. In so many ways, the DNR leadership shows the same arrogance and lack of compassionate leadership that the French nobles and the British aristocracy displayed. I pray for an American, not French, style revolution. Yet it is the power of the people to witness and demand accountability of those we entrust with leadership. That is why courts have seats. So we can witness the motions of justice, for better or worse. Time will tell.
At last! 27 days left until we finally face the DNR and Attorney General in a court of law and both sides present their case to a judge. This is how it’s supposed to work, right? We’ll see. They are determined to stay out of court by any means possible. Except for the most obvious to most people: drop the ISO and Declaratory Ruling and find another way to deal with pigs in the woods. Here are the details:
Trial dates are March 11-14, 2014.
Place: Missaukee County Courthouse, 111 Canal St. in Lake City, Michigan
Starts at 9:00 a.m. on March 11
There is limited seating in the courtroom. There are folks working on some alternative arrangements so everyone can see the proceedings one way or another. We’ll keep you posted.
There are motels in Lake City, Cadillac, McBain, and Houghton Lake.
There are many restaurant options, also. I think someone’s working on a place that is planning on feeding folks from out of town. We’ll keep you posted on that, too.
This is an important event. The government forces STILL don’t understand that folks are tired of their arrogance and of being pushed around by vague and subjective regulations (not even laws but carrying the same force!). They don’t believe we are going to hold them accountable for forcing foolishness on us. After all the phone calls and e-mails they still think that Mark is a fringe farmer with fantasies of fame who can be cajoled, frightened, or bought. They don’t understand that he is a point for a spear that is all of you. Other food rights cases have proven that community support makes a difference. A packed courtroom speaks volumes to the Powers-That-Think-they-be about the weightiness of of these issues. People vote with their dollars and their presence. Money and time. We appreciate beyond words the support we’ve felt so far in this fight. You have stood beside us, kept us in the game in so many ways. We look forward to seeing you in March!
In response to recent rumblings we’ve heard, Mark says with Mark Twain:
“The reports of my (compliance) are greatly exaggerated.”
The DNR has decided Mark is now “in compliance.” They base that opinion off a statement and one picture. Once again, the details and facts are unimportant to them. In claiming that Mark is “in compliance,” they have never looked at our herd and have no real knowledge of their lineage. In all it’s vagaries, we are still unclear whether or not we are in compliance with the law. This is the question we had when this started and we continue to have. We did, in fact, cull our Russian/Eurasian Boar looking sow and her daughters last December. However, we maintain our suit because the DNR has continued to deny us due process by refusing to define terms such as “hybrid,” “domestic hog production,” and “feral” so that we can determine if our remaining pigs are legal or not. They continue to insist that how a pig looks determines its living arrangement. Such cavalier and ill-informed judgement of “felon” or “not felon” (as a breaker of the Invasive Species Order would be) begs explanation and, again, would seem to deny Michigan’s citizens of due process.
We hope this helps you understand why they are making their claim and why we feel we can not drop our suit for clarification. There is a recent blog on our website in which we addressed this issue. Mark also has a video out talking about the recent developments.
Mark and I spent some time out with one pasture of Mangalitsas recently. I was reminded all over again of why I like these pigs.
1) They are not fazed by cold.
Today is a beautiful, sunny day. One of a precious few we’ve had this winter. I’m riding with Mark on our way to drop off the last two of this year’s cows at the butcher’s. We had six to do this year—our first grass-fed beef harvest in many years. They’ve turned out wonderfully. They are a bit older than usual, so we let them hang an extra week between the kill and the cutting. Normally, a beef will hang in the butcher’s cooler for 10 days. This helps to stabilize and tenderize the meat. A beef can hang nicely for 21 days, and, in fact, for higher end beef I’m told this is considered desirable. We had the butcher hang our last two for about 15 days. The flavor profile was fantastic. The marbling was great. I’m not sure what grade it would get, but for a grass-fed beef it was substantial. It was very palatable and the superb flavor and fat combined to make for a very satisfying experience. We were impressed. Plus, we know exactly what our cows have eaten, how they were raised, and that they were butchered with care.
Merry Christmas from Baker’s Green Acres!
I hope this finds you enjoying the holidays and appreciating the Spirit of Peace that Christmas commemorates. It has struck me many times over the past year that Christ is about peace, but he didn’t promise peace like how we humans first think. It’s not peace treaties between nationalities, or family members reconciling, or even Powers-that-think-they-be leaving us to live life. Those things come out of real Peace. The peace he meant and that the angels sang about so long ago is a peace, a reconciling, a Life with the Power of the Universe. Once we get that, the other things flow naturally from the peace we have with ourselves and the God of the universe. And if they don’t, we are sad but not defeated. Nothing on this earth can take that Peace away.
There was an exchange on facebook recently that we saw too late to weigh in on, but it brought up some questions that we assume other people had. Actually they weren’t questions, but rather statements from folks that don’t know us and haven’t talked to us; however, we’ll help set the record straight and offer answers in case others wonder.
The Invasive Species Order and Declaratory Ruling are aimed at hunting camps, not farms, so why are you complaining?
The letter of the law is how enforcement is enacted. Nowhere is it written that this is intended for hunting preserves. It does state an exemption for “sus domestica used in domestic hog production.” It assumes two species (not breeds, species) of pig based on either living condition or breed—it’s rather unclear which. We’ve asked the DNR for clarification several times and they steadfastly refuse to clarify what domestic hog production is, or what a “hybrid” entails, or how a person can raise generations of “feral hogs” on their farm. Lastly, we have a letter from Rodney Stokes, former DNR director, to Rep. Ed McBroom stating that swine who fit the Dec. Ruling description (straight or curly tails, erect or floppy ears) cannot be raised for any purpose (negating the domestic production exclusion). Confused? Go by the LETTER of the law, not the “intent.”
They are only after “Russian Boar” pigs. Get rid of your Russians and raise some other kind of pig!
This begs ignorance on many levels.
They list about 10 monikers in the ISO: Wild boar, wild hog, wild swine, feral pig, feral hog, feral swine, Old world swine, razorback, eurasian wild boar, Russian wild boar. Russian Boar is only one of them. Do you know if you have a feral hog? An old world swine? A wild swine?
Hybrids are also illegal. Did you know that the Boar breed, with it’s many variations, is the root stock of every pig breed? That is why the Declaratory Ruling is so vague and really describes every pig known to humans. Every pig is a hybrid!
Our Mangalitsa stock crossed with one Eurasian Boar sow. She was the root stock. We crossed her offspring with purebred Mangalitsa for 4 generations. We culled all the half and ¾ Mangalitsa sows last December, leaving us with only 7/8 Mangalitsa sows. By breeding standards, that leaves us with “purebred” Mangalitsa stock. (A “fullblood” animal is 100% breed bred, usually with a pedigree or papers of some sort, according to my internet research.) The problem is, the Mangalitsa is a very heritage breed pig that fits 7 of the 9 Declaratory Ruling standards! We STILL have illegal pigs per the Declaratory Ruling.
This law is vague. Just because you are willing to play “Mother May I” with a state regulatory agency doesn’t exonerate you or make you “safe.” In all the “exempt” letters we’ve seen, there is hedge-our-bets language like “if” and “that we’ve seen so far.” A law that is so subjective that you have to cooperate with the authorities to know if you are legal or not is unconstitutional because it violates your right to due process. You have a Constitutional right to be able to read a law and determine if you are in compliance or not. Laws may not be written with a “Mother May I” caveat. But if your Constitutional rights don’t matter to you, then, by all means, work with the DNR and MSU to decide if the pigs you intend to raise in your backyard to feed your family make you a felon or not.
You are in trouble for raising Russian boar hybrids, not for raising heritage hogs. Be honest.
Anyone who’s read my writings over time knows that I’ve called our pigs Mangalitsa hybrids or Mangalitsa crosses and I’ve stated that we bred in Russian or Eurasian Boar to introduce hybrid vigor. In the last year we have culled our sows to get closer to a pure Mangalitsa bred pig. We currently have “purebred” Mangalitsas.
However, I’ve shown in other posts (What’s a Farm?) that every heritage breed hog and even the common 4-H pigs all are described in the Declaratory Ruling. As the DNR points out, if you wonder if your pig could be an Old World Swine, consult the Declaratory Ruling. Does your pig have a curly tail? Could be a hybrid. Does it have shoulder height and hoof length? Could be illegal. Does it have erect ears? There’s three characteristics and it only takes one to determine that your pig could be illegal. If you still wonder, ask a DNR officer to come look at your pig, behind the fence on your farm and fed and sheltered by you, and to determine if it’s feral or not. See my last paragragh above for my thoughts on that.
You can’t keep pigs inside a fence!
Seriously? This question was raised on a “Pastured Pig” forum. The person who said it has raised pigs outside on dirt. We’ve raised What’s the alternative? The only one I can think of is a closed, climate controlled barn full of concrete. The person who said this referenced the problem Texas has with feral pigs. Remind me again how getting rid of my pigs on my farm, safely contained behind my fences affects the pigs in the woods of Michigan, let alone has anything to do with Texas hogs.
Also, pigs outside fences (feral pigs) are not capable of breeding through fences, or jumping or climbing eight foot fences, or driving pick-ups. Nor is any particular breed of pig more capable of these things than any other breed.
I heard the DNR made Mark kill all his pigs.
We haven’t “depopulated” our farm. We still have our pigs. We have butchered pigs for people to eat under various circumstances, but we still have our sows, butcher ready hogs, and weaner pigs.
Technically, the DNR has not shot anyone’s pigs, nor have they used physical force to make anyone to shoot their own pigs. However, they have used harassment and threat of enforcement action (felony charges and fines of $10,000 per animal) to try to coerce cooperation with their “law.” Some people chose not to stand up to them and “depopulated” their animals before the DNR enforcers arrived.
Are you saying feral pigs aren’t a problem?
No. Pigs of any breed that are outside a fence could be a problem. They do eat people’s flowers and may dig up a corn field or create a wallow along a stream. Does Michigan have pigs living in the woods? Yes. The DNR says 1000-5000 and multiplying like rabbits. Mark figured out how that should look in the woods in a video (Feral Swine Math). Yet 99% of the outdoors enthusiasts we’ve talked to have never seen a pig in the woods. Hunters have only killed 40-50 in any given year and the number is dropping.
If pigs outside of fences are the issue, how is getting rid of our pigs going to change the feral hog population? The DNR holds that they are going to prevent more pigs from getting loose. However, they assume that only the 10 listed types of hogs get into the woods. That is simply not true. They hold that in order to protect the environment from potential harm they must take our properly kept property, even though there is no proof that our pigs, simply based on how they appear, are a potential harm. Good husbandry (proper fencing, food, water, shelter) is not an issue with this law in any way, shape, or form.
The fact is that the Declaratory Ruling describes every pig known to humans because pigs of all breeds have gotten out into the woods and adapted to wild living. Which begs the question of whether or not an animal can change species when its lifestyle changes. This is what they potentially assert by claiming there are two species of pigs.
Is one breed of pig more likely to become feral?
“Feral” refers to an animal that was under the care (husbandry) of humans and is now living outside the husbandry of humans. Any animal, regardless of species or breed, can become feral. Do some have a greater ability to survive? Yes. When we raised hog house pigs on dirt we found that about half of them did well and half couldn’t cut it. Was that a breed difference? I don’t think so because they all came from the same place and looked the same to start with (white, curly tail, four legs). We also know that the Mangalitsas are a lot hardier than those white pigs, and that our pigs now are even stronger as far as disease resistance, parasite resistance, ability to utilize forage, and mothering ability. Are our pigs now “more likely” to become feral? Truth be told, we only have jail breaks when the pigs follow us out an open gate (and follow us back in) whereas our white pigs were always looking for a hole in the fence and refused to go back through it to go back in (creating lots of interesting stories). Our white pigs were more likely to escape the fence and head for the swamp than our heritage breed pigs.
Hope this answers a few questions about the pigs, our farm, and the Michigan DNR’s administrative law. Please contact us if you have more questions!
It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving is almost here. The couple of inches of snow this morning make it more plausible, but it still seems like just yesterday it was swimming weather. They say that happens when you get older, so maybe that’s my issue. On the other hand, I am thankful for the snow to cover the mud and brown blah of late fall. I think the function of November is to make us thankful for winter.
That brings me to winter food. Namely, turkeys. Our big white birds don’t seem to mind the cold as long as they can get their feet up out of it now and then. They like to roost above the chill. They are out of green grass, but turkeys are amazingly good foragers–even the broad breasted ones we have. They are much more resourceful than chickens. However, I imagine they are ready to look for warmer pastures. That is where you come in. They need new homes in someone’s oven or freezer. They have had plenty of grass and GMO free feed, so they are flavorful, juicy, and good for you. This is turkey that will leave you feeling full and happy rather than full and peculiar (that’s the best nice word we have for our experience).
The turkeys should weigh in around 15-18 pounds. They will be processed the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving so they are fresh for the holiday. The cost is $3.50/lb. Let us know soon to make sure you get one of these scrumptious birds!
On November 6, 2013 at 7pm Northern Michigan Christian School will host a conversation with Mark Baker. Mark Baker is a northern Michigan farmer who has been ordered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to “depopulate” his livestock because the DNR believes they could become a significant nuisance to local communities. Mark’s story has been hotly contested and publicized throughout the mid-west for several years. We will be examining Mark’s understanding of the is-sues and his interaction with government agencies. Although Mark’s situation is based on a specific species of animal, there may be significant implications for the broader farming and consumer community which merit discussion. You are strongly encouraged to join the conversation about alter-native agricultural practices, the government, and you.
Mark talking about our happy side: Anyone Can Farm
I realized I haven’t updated folks on our legal situation in a while. Mostly that’s because it hasn’t changed much.
For those of you who are new to the story, I’ll recap a bit.
Two years ago in mid December, we were delivering chicken to one of our chefs in Traverse City. “I’m sorry to hear about your hogs,” he said. “Um…what about our hogs?” Apparently the local Michigan Department of Ag. Commisioner had gathered the area chefs and informed them that they couldn’t have a certain type of hog in their establishments because those hogs are now deemed illegal. He told them that our Mangalitsa pigs were included in that because of how they look. The chef at our next stop confirmed the event and information. Mark did some more checking around and found out that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources had added certain types of pigs to the Invasive Species Order and had issued a Declaratory Ruling to help people understand which pigs were deemed invasive and therefore illegal. We looked at the list of illegal pigs and said, “Could our pigs be ‘old world swine?’” We consulted the characteristics (any one or more of which would make a pig of the illegal variety) and determined that our Mangalitsas (both the hybrids we have and the purebreds we’ve had) met 7 of the 9 characteristics. You can read them all here.
Mark’s next move was to attend a meeting the DNR held to help farmers and ranchers understand how this applied to them. The meeting consisted of a reading of the ISO and Declaratory Ruling and then, well, they refused to answer questions. They told attendees to ask questions of the couple of officers in the back, but wouldn’t answer questions from the group.
The ISO and Declaratory Ruling raises many issues about due process under the law (how vague is “other characteristics currently unknown”), private property, private contracts, and jurisdiction. The DNR is a administrative agency, and the best funded agency in Michigan, possessing it’s own law enforcement division. They are accountable to no citizens and have a reputation for showing contempt to citizens. This saga started many years ago when the DNR went to the legislature and asked them to regulate the private hunting preserves because we had this problem of feral pigs in Michigan. The legislature found that the Dept. of Ag. was doing an adequate job of regulating the preserves and dealt with pigs in the woods by passing the “shoot on sight” law, whereby any license carrying hunter (regardless of license type or season) could shoot a pig loose in the woods. This didn’t satisfy the DNR because only ** pigs were shot. They were sure there were a couple thousand out there. So, at the behest of the Michigan Pork Producers, they gathered a working group and developed the Invasive Species Order addition and Declaratory Ruling. The ISO and Declaratory Ruling were ostensibly aimed at private hunting ranches, but failed to define a “domestic hog production” while effectively describing every pig known as either a “feral pig” or a hybrid of it. With no legal clarification (the DNR wanted us to simply have them approve our farm pigs) at hand, Mark sued the DNR for relief from the ISO and Declaratory Ruling.
After much legal wrangling, a change of lawyer, and passing of valuable time, we had a hearing on July 12 regarding Motions for Summary Disposition from both sides. While waiting for the judge’s decision, things weren’t quiet behind the scenes. When given the opportunity to be good guys and help us to make lemonade out of lemons (so to speak), the DNR chose to exact their total rights and take as much time as they are allowed (75 days) to learn all they can about our two expert witnesses. Their game plan was ennunciated by one of their lawyers during a hearing for one of the other farmers who sued the DNR. One of their lawyers told the judge in Baraga:
“You know, when it comes down to brass tacks, Your Honor, the fact of the matter is yes, the intent of this Order is to put that business and nodding to Roger Turunen or Mark Baker or anybody else, but to eliminate that business, and, of course, we wait for the Courts to determine whether that Order is valid and legal, but, you know, there’s no getting around the fact that that is, indeed, what DNR hopes to accomplish.” (emphasis added)
They tried to put a disclaimer on it and say that Harold Martin didn’t mean to say they were trying to put us out of business, but their actions speak louder than their denials. They are dragging our case out as long as possible, and are appealing the Baraga court’s injunction to allow Roger to do a fraction of his former business under extreme DNR scrutiny. They can say what they want, but in a struggling economy they are seeking to “eliminate” businesses that could be stimulating the economy. Vague, arbitrary laws have a way of squelching business rather than stimulating it. Note that our Attorney General, Bill Schutte, and Governor, Rick Snyder, are both 100% behind the DNR on this capricious escapade. (You can read more about this on the blog: “Update” and “Intentions.”)
Most recently, the Attorney General, Bill Schutte, via his henchlawyers, has been up to the old tricks again. Judge Fagerman had, after much deliberation, handed down his opinion. He conceded some points to the A.G. and DNR, and other points to us. There were a couple of points in which he felt there was enough vagueness that a trial was needed to bring the details to light. After more stalling by the DNR and AG, we have a planning meeting to establish the trial date on October 30. In the meantime, they’ve shown their contempt for the judge and their “chicken” stripe by making a motion for the court to reconsider the opinion. They have no new information to bring to the table, they simply want the judge to rethink his position. I can only conclude that they are afraid to allow this case to go to trial. They seem to have a low opinion of the people of the county because they strongly resist any request for an Advisory Jury trial. Their tactic, rather than explain in a logical and reasonable and persuasive manner how their law is Constitutional and logical and reasonable, is to add delay to delay and avoid the hard questions and ignore the citizens who pay their wages and force out, squash, intimidate, and eliminate anyone who has the fortitude to question their logic and reasonableness (and don’t even mention the Constitution). Here’s Mark’s latest video on this topic: The DNR’s latest move.
The participation of everyone who has stood by us with their time, energy, and money has sent a message. You have shown the people in Lansing and the courts that you are paying attention to them and are willing to invest in keeping your freedoms. This is what seems to make the difference in these kinds of cases. The people who forget who they work for and seek to exert undo authority over us like to do so in the dark, not in the light of public scrutiny. Thank-you for the investment you’ve made in preserving your Constitutional rights, reminding the people we sent to Lansing (as we need to do with the people we seat in our county and Federal governments also) that our rights are divinely given and they are not the Divine, they only have authority as given by the People, and we are watching.