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Ufimizm

Michigan Orders Slaughter Of All Heritage Breed Pigs

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Detroit Free Press article.

When I read 'heritage breed pigs', I thought of the old style American fatty hogs. But it doesn't appear that that is what these are. In fact, I'd be surprised if they're very good to eat. I think it's being presented as a harm to farmers, while they're actually being brought in for 'hunting preserves' and 'game ranches'.

Larry the Cable Guy in his series Only in America just aired an episode where he went along as some guys in another state were hunting these beasts down with dogs. Apparently, they do do a lot of damage.

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Is there going to be a giant barbeque? They can sell tickets and get the state back in the black :laugh:

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Update: While I can say I wasn't exactly comfortable at using Larry the Cable Guy as a source, it does appear that he grew up on a pig farm, and did a season 1 episode called Larry & the Superpig about an "heirloom" pig farm in South Carolina (apparently positive).

In season 2 he's hunting down "feral pigs" in Florida.

Unfortunately, clips, pics or more details are not to be found. But it would appear that Larry does know his swine.

ETA: Season 2 episode is called "American Invasion".


Edited by IndyRob (log)

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I watched the Baker family video. I for one love pastured pork and think if it's raised on a farm, and is not an endangered species, and people (like me) want to eat it because it tastes like the pork I grew up on and missed terribly until small farmers started raising them again, there should be no effort to stop them. These are no javelina (the wild pigs where I live). These are farm animals.

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Pigs or no pigs, the DNR is violating these farmer's fourth amendment rights by illegally searching their farms even after being shown that the pigs have been slaughtered.

Nothing like losing your livlihood to overzealous bureaucrats.

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It is a huge invasion and denial of private property rights and just one more act in what is going on in Michigan.

People who have lived on family farms for generations have been forced to sell them at hugely discounted prices to large agribusiness companies. A friend who lives on the upper peninsula is selling out and moving to Vermont before her property is seized.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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I live in Michigan. What they are doing is fine by me and overdue. Feral pigs cause destruction on a massive level to crops and farms. Michigan cropped up a number of these "game ranches" and owners stocked boars on them where you could pay to hunt them. The problem is that many of these boars escaped, and some ranches just released all the boars when they went out of business. Those boars are now running hog wild over our state and breeding. Agriculture accounts for a huge percent of Michigan's economic output and closing down this is good step in my opinion. Wild pigs are already becoming a problem here and it definitely does not need to get any worse.

Michigan is very sensitive to these kind of issues. Look at the Asian carp problem. That started eerily similar to the feral pig in that the fish "cafo" farms swore the Asian carp they brought in to help clean their ponds would never escape. Whoops. You can also add all the invasive species that are dropped by cargo ballast water to this. That is how the zebra mussel got in the Great Lakes which is now a massive eco-system problem.

I do think the state screwed up the definition of a feral pig and included some heritage breeds that should not have been included. But when you are looking at an epidemic of wild boar destruction, I will take heavy handedness at the start and then look for exemptions later. We need to get this under control, now.

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I do think the state screwed up the definition of a feral pig and included some heritage breeds that should not have been included. But when you are looking at an epidemic of wild boar destruction, I will take heavy handedness at the start and then look for exemptions later. We need to get this under control, now.

Yes. Government going off half-cocked is always the best solution to any problem; private rights of citizens be damned.

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I do think the state screwed up the definition of a feral pig and included some heritage breeds that should not have been included. But when you are looking at an epidemic of wild boar destruction, I will take heavy handedness at the start and then look for exemptions later. We need to get this under control, now.

Why not just get it right the first time?

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I don't understand the use of 'feral' in this context, since it describes the state in which an animal lives, not any sort of breed (e.g. feral dogs are domestic dogs that no longer have owners, and fend for themselves in an essentially wild state; they can just as easily be purebread poodles as nth genration mongrels).

Leaving aside the politics for a moment, has no lawyer pointed out the intrisic meaningless of the wording, 'feral hog/swine'? I'd argue that the same goes for 'wild' (unless the ownres are allowing their livestock to run free, which would surprise me very much), not to mention, in animal husbandry, 'boar' is simply a male pig, and 'swine' is a synonym for 'pig'; does the US government/legislature actually actually assign alternate meanings to 'swine', 'boar', 'feral', and 'wild'?


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Because it's Michigan. That wasn't nice, so I'll take it back.

Michaela, I don't think you can divorce the politics from this matter. Even if the statute is revisited at a later date, it is still too late for the small farmers who have been directly effected by massive over-reach.


Edited by annabelle (log)

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Yes. Government going off half-cocked is always the best solution to any problem; private rights of citizens be damned.

The government wasn't going off half cocked. The DNR has been trying to get game ranches and use of wild boars stopped from the moment it started. Here is the webpage they set up on the topic:

http://www.michigan.gov/feralswine

One species of swine is banned - Sus scrofa. Domestic pigs are Sus domestica and not banned.

There is a lot of politics and heat around this issue, but I think they made the correct decision. It is fine to disagree with me.

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Yes. Government going off half-cocked is always the best solution to any problem; private rights of citizens be damned.

The government wasn't going off half cocked. The DNR has been trying to get game ranches and use of wild boars stopped from the moment it started. Here is the webpage they set up on the topic:

http://www.michigan.gov/feralswine

One species of swine is banned - Sus scrofa. Domestic pigs are Sus domestica and not banned.

There is a lot of politics and heat around this issue, but I think they made the correct decision. It is fine to disagree with me.

If a bunch of restaurants started pouring (or leaking through faulty storage) their used cooking oil into rivers and poisoning them, would the answer be to ban cooking oil or to address the illegal dumping?

How would you feel if the government then marched into all existing restaurants (regardless of whether they'd been a dumping offender or not) and confiscated all of their oil and fryers causing a considerable number of them to go out of business?

And don't worry I wasn't sweating whether I was allowed to disagree with you.


Edited by BadRabbit (log)

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Cooking oil doesn't start breeding once released and making 4-6x its volume. There is a difference between a pollutant and an invasive species. Boars are an invasive species. Cooking oil is not. And I think you would trust there is already regulatory systems in place for many pollutants here with all this fresh water we have in the state.

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Correct me if I am wrong, DMS, but were not these pigs penned at the farms referenced in the article? Most pigs bred for food are castrated as piglets and a farmer may or may not keep a boar of his own, but mostly a load of brood sows. Food pigs are also sent to slaughter at a regulation weight (I can't recall how heavy) and not allowed to grow as large as a Buick. If they were and they went feral, they would certainly be much easier to find and to kill.

Did the regulators have evidence that all the pigs slaughtered were invasive species or heritage breeds? Who is driving this slaughter? Invasive species of pigs are in most states and, yes they are distructive.

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Cooking oil doesn't start breeding once released and making 4-6x its volume. There is a difference between a pollutant and an invasive species. Boars are an invasive species. Cooking oil is not. And I think you would trust there is already regulatory systems in place for many pollutants here with all this fresh water we have in the state.

It was an analogy. It wasn't meant to be a perfect analog but your argument doesn't work either. The volume of oil in a kitchen is unrelated to the damage the same volume would do as a pollutant.

I'm sure another pollutant would work better but I was trying to use the theme of egullet to make my point. Some pollutants could kill off a food species and cause mass dies offs up the food chain in an exponential way similar to the damage that a growing feral species can. Pick your poison (pardon the pun) but the actions by the government would still represent the same idiotic attitude of attacking the product instead of the illegal practice that caused the product to be dangerous.

My guess is that you would have no problem with my hypothetical gestapo anyway since those that think government should be unfettered by the pesky rights of citizens typically recognize no bounds as long as they approve of the intended "public good."


Edited by BadRabbit (log)

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Sigh. I am not painting you with any broad brushes and I would expect the same. I am talking about invasive species and the argument you are making is not parallel with that. I am against invasive species running wild and screwing up my state. If that is the heavy hand of government or whatever you want to call it, fine, but it doesn't speak to my politics.

Annabelle, I do not know for certain as the state only reports "feral swine." Here is the report that they recently issued (PDF) - Michigan Feral Swine Reports. My guess from reading the accounts in the papers and local news on the run up to this is that our population here is from escaped swine/boars from game ranches and not heritage pigs. That is why I said it was probably screwed up on implementation. I think there is a difference between neutered heritage pigs kept for small family production and boars kept on wild game ranches, but then again maybe the differences are not that far apart genus-species wise. Here is the PDF ruling that lists exactly what they are banning.

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DMS, thanks for providing those documents. It still sounds as if the argument is framed very broadly and the pig farmers are right to be angry.

If these feral pigs are being either found dead or killed outright (at least half of them from the first report), why doesn't the state department of fish and game just sell a boatload of wild pig tags and send the hunters after them? Or better, put a bounty on them since I imagine that they are too gamey for most people to eat? A photo of a scary tusky boar on a bounty poster would generate some income for the out of work and get rid of the pesky boars, too.

Win-win!

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DMS, thanks for providing those documents. It still sounds as if the argument is framed very broadly and the pig farmers are right to be angry.

If these feral pigs are being either found dead or killed outright (at least half of them from the first report), why doesn't the state department of fish and game just sell a boatload of wild pig tags and send the hunters after them? Or better, put a bounty on them since I imagine that they are too gamey for most people to eat? A photo of a scary tusky boar on a bounty poster would generate some income for the out of work and get rid of the pesky boars, too.

Win-win!

Feral pigs tear up levees all over south Louisiana--especially the flood protection levees at the edge of the Bayou Sauvage national wildlife refuge, which is wholly inside Orleans Parish/the city of New Orleans. The problem is controlled at the NWR through hunting....it's incredible that a state would outright ban a species that has potential economic value to farmers.

We in LA have our share of destructive, invasive species (ever heard of the nutria that's chewing up our coastal marshes?). In this state, it's legal to shoot feral hogs year-round in daylight. Heck, if you want to control the population, pay hunters a bounty for 'em. (Nutria have a $4 bounty--the hunter gets paid for every tail turned in. More than 325,000 nutria were removed from coastal LA last year through this program.) Here's info on the nutria removal program: http://www.nutria.com/site9.php

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There are peripheral damages too. My friend, who owns a fair amount of acreage, including more than half a mile of lake Superior frontage, raises Christmas trees. Her neighbor did have some hogs, not wild boars, they were hybrid Tamworth/Hereford that were foraging in the oak and hickory woods adjacent to her property. The males were all castrated.

Someone reported that they were wild, even though they were all ear tagged, they were shot.

The farmer was told he can't make a claim for unlawful destruction of domestic livestock.

Because the state vehicles, trucks and 4 x 4s could not drive on the narrow, overgrown logging road through the woods, they drove through her property (without permission) and destroyed several thousand crop trees. A suit will be filed but she is selling her property to a developer who has been trying to get it for years.

Her family settled the property in 1843.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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That's a shame, andie. There was no reason to destroy her tree crop to get at those pigs. I hope she recovers her lose and decides not to move away.

Hungry C:

That's why I proposed a bounty. It stupid to destroy domestic livestock because one of them "may" be a feral hog. As usual, Southerners are more practical about these matters.

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This is one of the more important stories on agriculture to have come out in many years.

I fully agree that feral swine are a problem anywhere -- but this rulemaking was poorly executed and thought through. One of the more important heritage breeds, Mangalitsa, was called illegal until March 8th, when a clarification letter was issued after a huge outcry. Unfortunately, this doesn't solve any problems for other farmers with other breeds that are less popular or visible.

Furthermore, the state's guidelines are not based on genetics -- but rather phenotype (what the animals look like). They are using physical traits only, which is why Mangalitsa got thrown into the bunch. Details are here: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/Feral_swine_photo_illustration_381452_7.pdf

I suspect they didn't want to use actual genetics because ALL feral pigs in the US come from European hogs, including the supposedly "safe" pink hogs. "Pink" pigs can and will survive outside (I've raised them here in Alaska) -- and will eventually go feral as well, their genetics reverting back to wild stock. So, to single out certain breeds based upon looks without singling out specific genes is laughable.

What they needed to do was issue large fines to those hog operators without stout fences.

I believe what really drove the train was the Michigan Pork Council. First of all, there is a huge concern about wild hogs transmitting diseases to feed lot hogs -- where such diseases would spread like wildfire due to the horrible growing conditions. Secondly, small producers are beginning to gain traction with breeds like Mangalitsa -- and will eventually cut into the already thin profit margins these large operators have. The best thing for them (big ag) to do was to sculpt regulations that were as restrictive as possible from the outset - destroying a few family farms in the process. The aftermath (compensation under takings law, for example) is something for the government to work out and fix later, long after the damage is done. While regulations were indeed needed, they could have been written smartly -- and the state could have chosen to consult with small farmers as well, which they did not.

A few great books on the subject that illustrate how our food industry is being sabotaged by larged industry:

"Mad Sheep" will leave you quite angry. It tells the story about a healthy flock of sheep in New England that was destroyed by USDA and found later to be clean of any disease - an incident which was probably a decoy to distract people from concerns over mad cow disease in the beef industry, with serious involvement by the Cattleman's Association. It can be found on Amazon here.

Marion Nestle's "Food Politics" is an in-depth study of how the food industry uses every tool possible to maintain its razor thin profit margins in a cut-throat industry. The book talks at length about questionable practices that corrupt USDA and FDA rulemaking, sometimes at the detriment to the consumer, sometimes at the detriment of small food businesses and farms. It can be found on Amazon here.

Finally, a great documentary was just released (today as a matter of fact) that talks about overzealous agricultural enforcement: Farmageddon.

Farmers being held at gunpoint for doing something that was legal two months ago (in the case of the hogs) or selling milk (in the case of the Amish prosecuted for selling raw milk) is something that does not sit well with me. There is no reason to draw guns in these situations and treat honest people as hardened criminals.


Edited by bigkoiguy (log)

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