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Under Harassment, Michigan Heirloom Pig Farmer Asks Americans for Help

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After serving his country for 20 years in the military and ten years as a farmer, Mark Baker is "at the end of his rope" and is asking Americans for help.

Baker's Green Acres is an idyllic, bio-diverse, sustainable farm in Marion, Michigan. Baker, his wife and his six children raise pastured poultry, grass-fed beef, goats and dairy, and a heritage breed of hogs called Mangalitsa.

In December of 2011, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources informed Baker that his hogs were an "invasive species of wild boar" that needed to be exterminated in order to protect wildlife and other farms.

The agency said he had until April of 2012 to destroy all of his pigs or else it would destroy them for him. Baker refused and filed a lawsuit asking for relief.

He was hoping to get his case heard that spring, but the state attorney general - who is acting as a prosecutor on DNR's behalf - has been successful in stalling the trial until late this summer.

Fortunately the agency did not follow through on its promise to shoot Baker's pigs. Unfortunately, it decided to levy $700,000 in fines against him last week for "harboring" them on his property.

That's $10,000 per hog or per "violation" of the state's Invasive Species Order.

As of Food Riot Radio's interview with him last week, Baker had 67 hogs. The state was unaware when it issued the fine that he recently "put down" four hogs because he couldn't afford to feed them.

Starving them out

When the state tried to get Baker's trial pushed back to 2014, Baker wrote a letter to the judge saying he'd be out of business and homeless by then. His current trial date of August 27 has been a stretch for him.

He's been feeding the hogs, without being allowed to sell their meat, for a year and a half now, which he says is extremely difficult because "these pigs eat a lot everyday."

Normally at this time of year he'd be breeding the pigs in order to have more to sell, but he can't now, because it would just make "more mouths to feed."

Add $140,000 spent in legal fees so far to his lack of pork sales, and Baker says his family is on a very tight ship right now.      
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