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.”