Small family farms represent the backbone of a local, sustainable food system. While huge industrial farms dominate the market, small farms have been able to thrive by providing high-quality food raised in environmentally healthy ways. This includes livestock humanely raised on pasture.
In Michigan, As of April 1, 2012, thousands of small livestock farms that raise pigs face an imminent threat. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is attempting to drastically expand its jurisdiction from public lands to farms, where an Invasive Species Order issued by MDNR in 2010 (intended to prevent invasive species from taking root in the wild) will be used to ban heritage breeds of pigs – and allow MDNR to destroy them at will.
Specifically, the order allows MDNR to seize and slaughter heritage pigs, without compensating the farmers whose livestock is destroyed. Pigs can be identified as invasive – and thus eligible for slaughter – regardless of how long they have been part of animal husbandry in Michigan. They will be rounded up according to the color of their fur (black or striped), their undercoat color (lighter than the topcoat), whether their tails are straight or curly, and other arbitrary characteristics. Needless to say, the modern, hybridized breeds of pigs raised in huge factory farms (represented by the Michigan Pork Producers Association) are not at risk – only old-fashioned breeds.
This is an outrage. Small farmers work hard, and those farmers who choose to raise heritage breeds are helping preserve genetic diversity and providing ethically raised meats for the customers who value the preservation of such foods. These are the farmers who will suffer if this brazen power grab is allowed to go forward.
Please tell Governor Snyder that he must halt the execution of the Invasive Species Order, and that it must be revised to limit MDNR's jurisdiction to public lands. Let him know that he needs to support, not penalize, small family farms, and that that slaughter of heritage breeds must not go forward!
For more information, visit http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/michigan-swine-iso.htm#1