Youtube link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RPVfduwUx-g
Heritage Pig Farm Embargoed, USDA and DNR Close In
by Heather Callaghan
Farm To Consumer News, 17 January 2013
“Our farm is basically embargoed. We can raise all the pigs we want, but can not move them out to our market. That cuts off cash flow, effectively starving the farm financially and the pigs practically.” - Jill Baker
Baker’s Green Acres made the news last spring as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) went on a mission to eradicate heritage pigs, calling them a feral invasive species. This move would wipe out the entire small-scale farm whose animals pose no threat to typical hog species. New blockages from multiple government agencies are making it impossible to run the farm.
Mark and Jill Baker of Marion, Michigan decided to fight the Invasive Species Order but have not been allowed to have a hearing, and it’s been a year. So, after feeding all the Russian boar and Mangalitsa pigs ($200-300 per day) to keep them alive while in limbo, they decided to take them to slaughter. Isn’t that what the State wanted—wouldn’t that make them happy?
But when they went to take some to the USDA slaughterhouse, they were blocked right before Christmas by an issue from the USDA who is supporting the DNR move.
Many of us don’t hear what goes on with victimized farmers after the initial news hits—makes one wonder if these court cases are dragged out on purpose. But Mark lets us know in his Situation Report with rousing, patriotic words about our food and farming rights. He aptly compares these government actions to, as Jill said, “the Soviet blockade of Berlin post-WWII. They attempted to gain control of the entire strategic city forcibly by controlling the food and fuel the people could have…”
Here are some points to know about Baker’s Green Acres’ situation compiled from their blog:
- These pigs needed to go to a USDA slaughter facility (unlike game hunting) and be certified healthy by an accredited veterinarian.
- Once in the kill facility, they cannot be released back to the farm—if unacceptable, they are disposed of or transferred to another USDA facility.
- Michigan had recently rejected health paperwork for a fellow farmer and even threatened the license of the vet who certified the animals as healthy.
- This facility had processed the Bakers’ Mangalitsas before, but now their name would be flagged because of the pending lawsuit.
- As the Bakers suspected, the USDA inspector had photos and forms flagging the outlaw characteristics.
- The Bakers wanted to avoid the possibility of the pigs being simply disposed of and the family actually being charged a “disposal fee” as they would be deemed “feral.”
- Having them “tagged” on the kill floor would cost time, money and problems for both the Bakers and the plant.
- The inspector wasn’t unreasonable—he was practical and caught in the middle.
- In both cases, the State is making our veterinarians the enforcers by threatening their license to practice if they break rank.
- This isn’t just a move from the rogue DNR (allegedly working in tandem with Michigan’s corporate Pork Producers)—it involves agencies that deal with farms that raise animals for USDA slaughter like the MI Dept of Ag and USDA—but the DNR, that is supposed to oversee hunting preserves, public parks, and hunting operations has manipulated farm processing facilities, blurring the lines of authority significantly.
- “Our farm is basically embargoed. We can raise all the pigs we want, but can not move them out to our market. That cuts off cash flow, effectively starving the farm financially and the pigs practically.” — Jill Baker
In the Situation Report, Mark thought that just maybe the pigs could make it until spring and have a hearing, but according to their Facebook page, they asked for volunteers to help butcher some sows on their property and gave away the meat to those in need.
You can still petition Governor Snyder here, but as Mark states in this short film, “dollars and cents are the real bullets” of this war in the right to access and farm the foods of our choice. And state politicians can easily ignore pleas in reverence to state agencies. Time is running out as government agencies and corporate influence close in on small fresh farms, unbeknownst to a vast sleeping public.
We, the citizens of this country must stand up and stand together. The purposes of this government are in defiance of the people’s expressed will. This administration seems to go that way more often than not (reference the Canada to Detroit bridge issue and the handling of the ‘right to work’ legislation). This has all sparked a lot of discussion about what to do with the pigs, examination of any possible options, and several sleepless nights for the feeder of the pigs. Not exactly ‘holiday spirit’ stuff.
Read more details on the pending case, and donate to the Bakers here to help save the pigs and the family farm.
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