For those concerned about the welfare of farm animals in the typical conventional situation, there are two options. You can go vegan and completely avoid all animal products, or you can buy meat from farms that raise animals in a more holistic, healthy manner. These animals live happy lives, are fed well, and slaughtered humanely.
For someone who considers eggs, meat, and other items an important part of a nourishing diet, the latter is the route I have chosen to take. Therefore, protecting the farmers who try to raise animals in a worthy manner is important to me. I was recently very disturbed to find out about a severe blow delivered to many small pig farmers in Michigan. This blow involves the slaughter of entire farms of pigs, without any compensation to the farmers. Some farmers made the difficult decision to shoot their own pigs (including piglets) rather than letting government officials carry them off to do the deed themselves. This massacre of pigs is happening under very dubious circumstances.
On April 1st, the Invasive Species Order (ISO) went into effect. This order conferred upon the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the power to prohibit certain breeds of pigs and the New Zealand Mud Snail. I haven’t read of any mud snail owners tearfully killing their beloved pets. However, because heritage pigs come under the order, the Department of Natural Resources are making sure that all farms who breed heritage pigs are killing their stock. If they don't comply, farmers are faced with high fines and jail time.
A published email from a farmer who had to kill his pigs shared this:
Subject: search warrant
I was served a search warrant yesterday at 7:45am.After 8 guys, 3 four wheelers, and 4 hours, DNR decided I was correct. I have killed all my hogs. They gave me papers that say I do not have any hogs on my property. All they saw were dead hogs laying around from my mass slaughtering. It took 12 guys 4 times in there to kill all of them, sows with young, Pregnant sows, dozens of piglets, and old mature boars. It has been a sad few weeks.
Does anyone know what it feels like to open fire on 20 baby piglets in one group which weigh between 5 lbs and 15 lbs. They are so adorable and cute.They commented to everyone that they never saw a fence built so tough and no way would a hog get out of this area. I trenched 2′ then installed chain link fencing, then a 10′ high tightlock fence on top of that. ( 200 acre area ) They never saw a fence like that.
deer tracks ranch
It is stories like this one that makes me feel like the world is indeed crazy.
Of course, conventional pig farmers who raise their pigs in tiny quarters on concrete are thrilled to see the removal of any competition. With one swift blow, entire herds of pigs can be eliminated. Not just one herd is affected by this order as it affects 2,000 farms and private hunting ranches.
The official statement from the DNR explains the justification for these drastic measures by saying that it 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."
I find it interesting that no distinction is made between the private hunting ranches, where I presume pigs have a wider freedom to wander (though often they are well contained), and small farms that raise domesticated heritage breeds. It seems nothing less than a deliberate move against small farms. While no one has a problem with any truly feral pigs being “taken care of” if needed, the move to slaughter thousands of pigs that were happily domesticated, to the ruin of thousands of farmers, seems both cruel and dramatically unnecessary.
Not only that, but it seems a dangerous precedent for farmers who raise heritage animals. It seems a dangerous precedent for all small farms. Plus, other states will surely follow the Michigan DNR's lead if they get away with such unjust actions.
If you would like to be part of the solution, you can! Call Michigan DNR director Rodney Stokes, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who has the power to rescind the order.
Primary Talking Points (from the Farmer-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund):
1. DNR needs to stay off farms.
2. DNR needs to repeal the Invasive Species Order to not include ALL swine that are under the husbandry of humans no matter how they are raised.
3. The order denies consumers their rights to access foods of their choice.
4. The order violates farmers' property rights and their right to make a living.
Rodney Stokes, Director, MDNR
P.O. Box 30028
Lansing, MI 48909
Governor Rick Snyder, State Capitol
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909
PHONE: (517) 335-7858
FAX: (517) 335-6863
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (History of situation, example letters to convey disagreement with the ISO, and updates on the ongoing situation)