Booher calls on governor to rescind Invasive Species Order on swine

LANSING – Sen. Darwin Booher called on Gov. Rick Snyder to rescind an Invasive Species Order (ISO) enacted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that will make it illegal to raise certain breeds of pigs in Michigan.

Booher and constituent Mark Baker, a farmer from Marion in Missaukee County, testified against the order in front of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. Baker raises hybrid mangalitsa hogs, which would be prohibited under the order.

“The actions taken by the DNR are a perfect example of government and bureaucrats moving their own agendas forward with total disregard for the law, private property rights and the Constitution,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I urge the governor to stand up for the small businesses that are providing choice in Michigan’s food industry and get rid of this invasive species order.” 

The DNR issued the order to make certain types of swine an invasive species in December 2010.  It became effective in October 2011. All pigs that possess one or more of nine characteristics, such as floppy ears, curly tails, and light colored under fur, as outlined in a DNR ruling, will be illegal. The DNR will begin enforcement of the ISO on April 1. Farmers who possess these swine will be guilty of a felony.

“The DNR says certain breeds of pigs must be banned because there are feral pigs in Michigan,” said Baker. “My pigs, however, are not feral. They are kept inside a fence and are under the care of my family. It is impossible to genetically differentiate between swine, so the department decided certain pigs will be banned due to their appearance. The characteristics they outlined are ridiculous because all pigs have those traits. Honestly, the entire thing seems like a bad April Fool’s joke, but unfortunately for pig farmers like me, it’s not.”

Baker’s pigs are raised from birth to death under the husbandry of humans and are utilized in restaurants around Michigan and surrounding states. The meat is a delicacy used in many specialty shops and is a significant boon to Michigan’s agri-tourism economy.

“As of Sunday, April 1, other farmers across the state and I will be considered felons simply because we raise a certain breed of pigs behind fences on our farms,” Baker said. “I’ve never seen anything like this and don’t understand what the DNR is doing and why they are involved in agriculture.”

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Booher welcomes Lake County 4-H to Capitol

LANSING – Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, welcomes Lake County 4-H members to the Michigan Senate. The group was in Lansing as part of the 4-H Capitol Experience, an annual four-day conference that focuses on civic engagement and public policy. More than 100 teens from around Michigan converged on the Capitol to experience state government in action and learn how they can influence policy issues.

A print-quality photograph of Sen. Booher welcoming Lake County 4-H members is available by visiting the senator’s photowire at:
www.misenategop.com/senators/photowire.asp?District=35.

Senate panel to meet in Ironwood to discuss community college funding

Who:

Sen. Darwin Booher, Senate Appropriations Community College subcommittee chair;
Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba;
Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan;
Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine; and
Members of the public.

What: 

Senate subcommittee meeting to analyze, discuss and hear testimony about the Fiscal Year 2012-13 community college budget.

When:

TODAY, Friday, March 9
4:30 p.m. CENTRAL STANDARD TIME

Where: 

Gogebic Community College
David G. Lindquist Student Center – Upper Level
Courtside Dining Room
E 4946 Jackson Road
Ironwood, MI  49938

Brief: 

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on community colleges will discuss the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2012.

The governor’s community college budget plan includes an increase in state assistance of 3 percent more than the current fiscal year.

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Joint panel to meet in Ironwood to discuss community college funding

Who:

Sen. Darwin Booher, Senate Appropriations Community College subcommittee chair;
Rep. Ken Goike, House Appropriations Community College subcommittee chair;
Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba;
Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan;
Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine; and
Members of the public.

What:

Joint subcommittee meeting to analyze, discuss and hear testimony about the Fiscal Year 2012-13 community college budget.

When:

Friday, March 9
4:30 p.m. CENTRAL STANDARD TIME

Where:

Gogebic Community College
David G. Lindquist Student Center – Upper Level
Courtside Dining Room
E 4946 Jackson Road
Ironwood, MI  49938

Brief: 

Members of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on community colleges will discuss the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2012.

The governor’s community college budget plan includes an increase in state assistance of 3 percent more than the current fiscal year.

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Joint panel to meet in Ironwood to discuss community college funding

Who:

Sen. Darwin Booher, Senate Appropriations Community College subcommittee chair;
Rep. Ken Goike, House Appropriations Community College subcommittee chair;
Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba;
Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan;
Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine; and
Members of the public.

What:

Joint subcommittee meeting to analyze, discuss and hear testimony about the Fiscal Year 2012-13 community college budget.

When:

Friday, March 9
4:30 p.m. CENTRAL STANDARD TIME

Where:

Gogebic Community College
David G. Lindquist Student Center – Upper Level
Courtside Dining Room
E 4946 Jackson Road
Ironwood, MI  49938

Brief: 

Members of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on community colleges will discuss the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2012.

The governor’s community college budget plan includes an increase in state assistance of 3 percent more than the current fiscal year.

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DNR order threatens heritage swine farmers because of how their pigs look

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’s what is happening now.

Four years ago, Mark, his wife and six children began raising Mangalitsa and Russian swine at Baker’s Green Acres farm. The breeds are two of the many types of heritage hogs, and there is a tremendous market for niche animals like these pigs for small farm operations. 

However, Mark and other farmers that raise heritage swine are being told by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that they must get rid of them by April 1.

In December 2010, the Michigan DNR issued an invasive species order (ISO) to make certain types of swine an invasive species, which prohibits farmers from raising them on their farms. The order became effective on Oct. 8, 2011 and affects all heritage hogs in Michigan. Even potbellied pigs, which are often raised as pets, may now be considered an invasive species in Michigan.

It’s ironic that just a week after the ISO’s effective date, Traverse City hosted Pigstock, a four-day course about Michigan Mangalitsa pigs. The course taught about breeding and husbandry practices, methods of processing, and charcuterie. Chefs from throughout the Midwest attended the conference. Now, the DNR’s order jeopardizes not only this conference, but the economic opportunities for small farm operations that raise heritage pigs.

The DNR’s thinking is irrational. The department says we must ban certain pigs because the state has a feral hog problem (pigs running at-large or outside a fence). But since all pigs outside of a fence are feral and the DNR cannot genetically differentiate between swine, the department decided to ban certain pigs in Michigan simply due to their appearance.

In December 2012, the DNR issued a ruling describing the characteristics that pigs cannot have or they will be considered an invasive species. Hence the Mangalista, along with many other breeds of swine that look different, are now considered invasive.

The politics of all of this – let’s call it pig politics – has been nothing less than amazing.

The small farmers I have talked to wonder why the DNR is singling out their pigs and joining forces with the Michigan Pork Producers Association on this issue. They believe the 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.

In a Nov. 2, 2010 Traverse City Record-Eagle story, Agriculture Commissioner Don Coe said the Mangalitsa pigs can be grown locally, “not in large feedlots, but humanely, on small farms, the way they used to be.”

I believe it was a mistake for the DNR to involve itself in an agricultural issue that is not associated whatsoever with its mission. The DNR is charged with management of game and wildlife owned by the public – not the regulation of privately-owned animals. That is the responsibility of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

My legislative colleagues and I have repeatedly asked the DNR to revise the ISO so it will not apply to pigs that are raised by people. We specifically asked DNR Director Rodney Stokes to rescind the order or revise it to apply only to pigs running wild outside a fence. Governor Snyder could also require it to be changed. Unfortunately neither has taken action.

This is a perfect example of government and bureaucrats moving their own agendas forward with total disregard for the law, private property rights and the Constitution.

Most importantly, it leaves Mark Baker – a man who has served our country honorably – little choice but to take action on his own to protect his family’s way of life from an overzealous state department. Beyond Mark, there are farmers all across Michigan that the DNR dictates must depopulate their animals because they are invasive species simply based on looks.

I oppose the DNR’s actions and will continue to stand up against this state government overreach.

I encourage you to contact Governor Snyder and DNR Director Stokes to express your opposition to this type of government behavior. Ask them to rescind this order and stand up for the small businesses that are providing choice in Michigan’s food industry.

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DNR order threatens heritage swine farmers because of how their pigs look

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’s what is happening now.

Four years ago, Mark, his wife and six children began raising Mangalitsa and Russian swine at Baker’s Green Acres farm. The breeds are two of the many types of heritage hogs, and there is a tremendous market for niche animals like these pigs for small farm operations. 

However, Mark and other farmers that raise heritage swine are being told by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that they must get rid of them by April 1.

In December 2010, the Michigan DNR issued an invasive species order (ISO) to make certain types of swine an invasive species, which prohibits farmers from raising them on their farms. The order became effective on Oct. 8, 2011 and affects all heritage hogs in Michigan. Even potbellied pigs, which are often raised as pets, may now be considered an invasive species in Michigan.

It’s ironic that just a week after the ISO’s effective date, Traverse City hosted Pigstock, a four-day course about Michigan Mangalitsa pigs. The course taught about breeding and husbandry practices, methods of processing, and charcuterie. Chefs from throughout the Midwest attended the conference. Now, the DNR’s order jeopardizes not only this conference, but the economic opportunities for small farm operations that raise heritage pigs.

The DNR’s thinking is irrational. The department says we must ban certain pigs because the state has a feral hog problem (pigs running at-large or outside a fence). But since all pigs outside of a fence are feral and the DNR cannot genetically differentiate between swine, the department decided to ban certain pigs in Michigan simply due to their appearance.

In December 2012, the DNR issued a ruling describing the characteristics that pigs cannot have or they will be considered an invasive species. Hence the Mangalista, along with many other breeds of swine that look different, are now considered invasive.

The politics of all of this – let’s call it pig politics – has been nothing less than amazing.

The small farmers I have talked to wonder why the DNR is singling out their pigs and joining forces with the Michigan Pork Producers Association on this issue. They believe the 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.

In a Nov. 2, 2010 Traverse City Record-Eagle story, Agriculture Commissioner Don Coe said the Mangalitsa pigs can be grown locally, “not in large feedlots, but humanely, on small farms, the way they used to be.”

I believe it was a mistake for the DNR to involve itself in an agricultural issue that is not associated whatsoever with its mission. The DNR is charged with management of game and wildlife owned by the public – not the regulation of privately-owned animals. That is the responsibility of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

My legislative colleagues and I have repeatedly asked the DNR to revise the ISO so it will not apply to pigs that are raised by people. We specifically asked DNR Director Rodney Stokes to rescind the order or revise it to apply only to pigs running wild outside a fence. Governor Snyder could also require it to be changed. Unfortunately neither has taken action.

This is a perfect example of government and bureaucrats moving their own agendas forward with total disregard for the law, private property rights and the Constitution.

Most importantly, it leaves Mark Baker – a man who has served our country honorably – little choice but to take action on his own to protect his family’s way of life from an overzealous state department. Beyond Mark, there are farmers all across Michigan that the DNR dictates must depopulate their animals because they are invasive species simply based on looks.

I oppose the DNR’s actions and will continue to stand up against this state government overreach.

I encourage you to contact Governor Snyder and DNR Director Stokes to express your opposition to this type of government behavior. Ask them to rescind this order and stand up for the small businesses that are providing choice in Michigan’s food industry.

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