In a bit of obscure food industry news, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) raided two small-family pig farms in the state this week, killing all pigs it now classifies as illegal "invasive species." If you don't live in Michigan, why should you care? Because what's happening in the state is similar to what Monsanto has been doing to family farmers since the 1990s.
The Invasive Species Order (ISO) went into effect April 1, 2012, after Michigan DNR outlawed "feral" swine in 2010—those pigs it said were disease carriers and harmful to the environment. Groups fought the new rule but lost, and the Michigan DNR took matters into their own hands this week when they showed up armed and ready to arrest the pig farmers.
Are you having flashbacks to the '90s when Monsanto brought its first lawsuit against a farmer for the drift of its patented seeds into the farmer's field? I think we've found our Monsanto of the pig industry… at least in Michigan.
The startling facts:
The Michigan DNR stated they will not compensate farmers whose pigs are killed. After April 1, possessing these now-illegal pigs is a felony with up to two years in jail and $20,000 in fines.
The pigs killed in the invasion were on private property in contained environments. In effect, they were not feral, but farm animals.
- Who's behind the ruling? The Michigan Pork Producers Association, for one "For the factory pork breeders, this is about eliminating the competition. The ISO ensures consumers will only have the choice of pork raised in confinement, known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)," reports Food Renegade.
Attorney Joseph O’Leary, who is suing the Michigan DNR on behalf of the farmers, told NaturalNews that these actions are unconstitutional:
“To take what was six months ago an entirely legal activity, and suddenly people are felons over it. They’re not growing drugs, running guns or killing anybody, they’re raising animals pursuant to USDA regulations and state of Michigan regulations. They haven’t done anything wrong here, and the DNR is treating them like they are hardened criminals.”
If you’re not already angry enough, watch this video. Mark Baker, a pig farmer with Baker's Green Acres, states why this issue isn't just isolated to Michigan: "There are 10 other states that are watching what Michigan does. If Michigan gets away with this, and they are able to declare that one of my farm animals is an invasive species and therefore outlawed, where does it end?"
If the GMO fight with Monsanto is any indication, this battle will unfortunately be taking place uphill. If you want to get involved, visit the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
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