by NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Americans’ Food Supply and Freedoms in Jeopardy
In an unprecedented private property grab, Governor Rick Snyder's Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued an Invasive Species Order (ISO) that allows his agents to forcibly commandeer and destroy heritage breed pigs on thousands of family farms in that state.
Citizens groups and conservative organizations are complaining that Governor Snyder's DNR is actively taking action to destroy these pigs, the farms and the farmers' liberties. In fact, the DNR teams have been likened to out-of-control SWAT teams.
"They are blatantly trampling civil liberties and natural rights and doing it to the great benefit of some very powerful lobbyists," said Tony DeMott, State Coordinator of the non-profit, non-partisan Michigan Campaign For Liberty.
"The actions of Governor Snyder's DNR are so dangerous that it is very important for you to understand the details," DeMott stated.
"The local food movement is under attack in Michigan. In a brazen power grab threatening the livelihood of small farmers across the state, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is using the state Invasive Species Act to expand its jurisdiction beyond hunting and fishing to farming operations," stated Pete Kennedy, an attorney with Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
According to several sources, Governor Snyder ordered the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in total violation of the Fourth Amendment (Illegal search and seizure) to conduct armed raids on pig farmers in that state.
The DNR chose two farms to start their purge: one in Kalkaska, MI, the other in Cheboygan.
According to several sources, including Brad Roon, who is collecting signatures for a petition to stop this Gestapo-like slaughter of farm animals, "The Michigan Pork Producer Association pigs are magically alright. If left in the woods (as the killed pigs are NOT) the inbred pigs would be just as damaging as the alleged "feral" pigs had they actually been allowed to run wild."
INVASIVE SPECIES ORDER
On April 1, 2012, an Invasive Species Order (ISO) that DNR issued in 2010 went into effect.
The ISO prohibits the possession of specified breeds of swine and the Michigan DNR stated that the order was necessary "to help stop the spread of feral swine and the disease risk they pose to humans, domestic pigs, and wildlife as well as their potential for extensive agricultural and ecosystem damage."
On April 4th, DNR issued a press release stating that it had begun active enforcement of the order.
The ISO allows DNR to seize and destroy heritage breeds of pigs raised by Michigan farmers. To add insult to injury the DNR refuses to reimburse farmers for the pigs they destroy.
The law also stipulates that possession of prohibited swine after April 1 is a felony with penalties of up to two years in jail and $20,000 in fines.
'In other words, the Michigan anti-pig 'storm-troopers' will raid a farm, kill livestock and on top of that arrest and prosecute farmers as felons. The state of Michigan — a state full of radical Islamists — is criminalizing farming and planning to imprison them for doing what they're supposed to be doing. Farmers are now joining pro-life activists as extremists in this era of Obama," states political strategist and attorney Mike Baker.
BROAD INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW
Michigan's governor's understanding of the law dictates that any pig in Michigan whether wild or domestic could be prohibited. Instead of using common sense in limiting the order to feral hogs that roam in wild and unfenced public and private lands, DNR is basing its interpretation as to what constitutes a prohibited swine on eight physical characteristics listed in its Declaratory Ruling issued on the swine ISO in December 2011.
The Ruling lists a ninth "characteristic" consisting of "characteristics not currently known to" DNR. The characteristics include ones involving underbelly fur, tail structure, ear structure, and skeletal appearance. Using these characteristics, any pig in the state could be prohibited under the ISO.
Mark Baker, a hog farmer in Marion, is one of four people who have filed lawsuits to stop the implementation of the ISO. As pointed out in Baker's complaint, "There is nothing inherently vicious or unhealthy about the breeds of pigs targeted by the ISO. Any pig, whether used in 'domestic hog production' or not, will exhibit the same problematic behaviors if allowed to become feral, that is, to live outside the husbandry of humans. It is the state of being feral which causes the problems identified by the DNR in the ISO and declaratory ruling, not any particular breed of pig." (Note: Mark Baker is not related to attorney Mike Baker.)
There are two political agendas at work behind the issuing of the ISO. According to Baker's complaint, DNR has tried unsuccessfully for many years to have the legislature eliminate hunting preserves and estates. In these facilities, privately owned pigs and other animals live in a contained natural environment where customers pay for a chance to hunt and harvest these animals. Further the DNR does not collect licensing fees from these contained private preserves which they do get from hunters on public and other private land.
The other agenda at work is that of the Michigan Pork Producers Association (MPPA) who has publicly supported the ISO. "The small farmers I have talked to wonder why the DNR is singling out their pigs and is joining forces with the Michigan Pork Producers Association on this issue."
Implementation of the ISO will deny farmers their property rights and the right to make a living. It will reduce or eliminate customer access to heritage breed pork, a product that has become increasingly popular in restaurants across the state.
The ISO will impact farmers and consumers around the nation; the National Pork Producers Association and government agencies in other states are watching to see whether DNR can get away with enforcing the ISO.
EPA ATTACK ON FARMERS
The state of Michigan is not the only place in the U.S. unfriendly towards farmers. The Obama Environmental Protection Agency's plan to initiate a so-called greenhouse gas tax on privately owned dairy farms and livestock has farmers up in arms.
The EPA has instituted new rules and regulations to control greenhouse emissions by farm animals. During this tough economic time, it is unfair and irresponsible to levy such a tax on family farms, according to conservatives.
Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, farmers would pay a hefty permit fee for animals that emit 100 tons of greenhouse gasses annually, affecting the vast majority of the nation's livestock operations. Any farm with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would have to obtain a permit to operate, which, according to the United State Department of Agriculture, would cover 99 percent of New York dairy production, 95 percent of its hog production and 90 percent of beef production.
According to one organization, the New York Farm Bureau, the new permits would cost farmers well over $110 million a year, dramatically impacting the agricultural sector and economy. The tax is estimated at $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 per hog. The added financial burden on already-struggling farmers could force many family farms out of business and lead to a raise in food prices.
While greenhouse gas contributes to global warming — according to some scientists and liberal-left politicians — not all emissions are equal. Under this federal proposal, livestock is held as accountable as the industrial and transportation sectors, which is simply illogical. That's essentially saying that a living, breathing cow is as detrimental to the environment as a coal-powered machine.
"The Obama Administration and the EPA officials fail to understand how important family farms are to our upstate rural communities. I don't support any tax that hurts farms and I am appalled with this permit requirement which could shut down our agricultural sector, causing catastrophic consequences the American economy," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"I would advise Americans to buy skis because we are in the precipice of a very slippery slope. The federal government will now begin to dictate what farmers may own and what they must do on their own property."
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has told Maryland's poultry farmers it intends to enforce for the first time federal pollution rules governing chicken manure — a crackdown that has surprised and angered growers while pleasing environmentalists who've long complained about agricultural runoff fouling up the invironment.
At meetings between EPA officials and farm associations, attendees were told that hundreds of farmers must get federal pollution-discharge permits if any manure from their flocks are washing off their land into drainage ditches and streams. More than half of the state's 800 poultry farmers have filed notices to get the permits, state officials say, but most observers are not confident of being successful unless the case goes to the US Supreme Court and before President Obama has an opportunity to nominate more leftist SCOTUS justices.
The federal permits are tougher in key respects than what Maryland has so far been unable to establish for its poultry farmers. State regulations and permit requirements developed last year to cover about 200 of the largest chicken farms are on hold because of appeals filed both by environmentalists and farmers.