Michigan farmer can keep his pigs

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SALEM, Ohio — A circuit court judge in Michigan has dismissed lawsuits between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and a pig farmer who challenged the state’s invasive species order banning feral pigs.

Missaukee County Chief Judge William M. Fagerman dismissed the case Feb. 26 on the basis that the farmer — Mark Baker of Bakers Green Acres — no longer possessed the type of pigs that were banned.

Baker had been breeding Mangalista hogs with Russian Boars to produce a winter-hardy hybrid, and had been marketing the meat to his customers as a specialty product.

Related: Michigan farmer fights to keep hogs he raises

Enforcement of the invasive species order went into effect April 1, 2012.

Faced fines

At that time, the Department of Natural Resources fined Baker $700,000, or $10,000 per hog, for continuing to keep the banned pigs. Baker and his legal counsel spent the past two years arguing his pigs were not feral — that they had never gotten loose and posed no harm to other animals or to the state.

Ed Golder, public information officer for Michigan DNR, said officials discovered through the proceedings that Baker no longer possesses the banned hogs and there essentially was “no longer anything to be fighting about.”

The ISO names certain types of hogs that are banned, and a declaratory ruling includes a physical description of what those hogs look like. Golder said Baker’s hogs — while they may still have some Russian boar genetics — no longer possess the physical traits of hogs that are banned.

Those physical traits include certain characteristics related to color, underfur, skeletal appearance, tail and ear structure.“(Baker’s hogs are) acceptable because they don’t have the distinctive phenotypical characteristics of Russian Boar,” Golder said.

No fines

In addition, Golder said the fines — which he said Baker had not yet paid — would be suspended.“Mr. Baker is in compliance with the Invasive Species Order and Michigan law, which is exactly the outcome we sought when the cases began,” Golder said.

This is a relief for Baker, who can keep the hogs he has without fines. But his legal counsel, Michelle Halley, of Marquette, Mich., said she’s in the process of determining any long-standing damages.

She said Baker’s hogs should have been found legal all along, because they were hybrids of Russian Boar. She is not yet sure how much damages will be, but said they would include legal fees Baker spent fighting the case.

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

6 Comments

  1. B. Prescott says:

    This is a bigger victory then 99.9% of the readers of this article realize if they have not been regularly following this issue.

    David has whupped Goliath – again.

    MDNR and Officer Golder have tarnished the image of an otherwise good organization. Losses by other farms forced to destroy their livestock should now be reviewed for compensation.

  2. Schedule F says:

    Of the 50+ farms that were depopulated (many pigs were just destroyed) not one single “feral” pig was destroyed. It was all all fenced domestic livestock raised mostly for food and breeding stock.

    This ISO (Invasive species order) declaratory ruling is a Bolshevik tactic used by our own government bureaucracy with the intent to destroy small business.

    The Michigan DNR is on record in court stating that they “wanted these farms out of business”. Your tax dollar at work.

  3. HOW ABOUT THE HOMES DESTROYED DUE TO THE LACK OF ENFORCEMENT OF THE CWA?

  4. FED UP & POd FARMER says:

    First off, I do NOT agree with the Michigan regulation one bit, and I fully support responsible hunting preserves that raise Russian boar for hunting in their fight against this regulation. That being said, I do NOT support Baker in any way, shape or form. He LIED and continually deceived people into siding with him,and then had the audacity to smear hog farmers in Michigan blaming them for something not only they did NOT do, but were completely unaware of-he never even spoke with any of them or their organization. Had he told the TRUTH to begin with-that he DID raise Russian Boar and crosses from them-I would have fully supported him. Instead, he LIED and falsly claimed Michigan Dept. of Wild Resources intended on eliminating heritage breeds of hogs trying to gain emotional support from small farm enthuseists and at the same time attacking large hogs farms who had NOTHING to this and falsly claiming they had abundant disease. I am ashamed to consider him a fellow farmer after his disgraceful attack on other farmers and his intentional deceit to consumers.

    • Constitution says:

      FED UP POD,

      Mark has never put down how other farmers raise their animals and he was truthful from the very beginning of this fight that he raised a hybrid of russian & mangalitsa…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=843yH_0RMIA

      If you could see the facts and numbers behind what is going on , the rabbit hole leads to National pork conglomerates funneling monies to make sure this order was malicious in taking out hunting preserves that had Russians and was enacted without proper time for legislation to get their foot in the door to stop this from affecting family farmers.

      It was sleazy, and I for one am thankful that Mark Baker decided to farm in Michigan, otherwise 20 years from now, when an even more ridiculous order would have came down the chain, we would have ZERO say in the matter.

      Watch the video…

    • That is how the industrial pork operations operate, keep up the fight!

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