As it happens, many small Michigan farmers have been raising a heritage breed called “Mangalista”, renowned for its flavor and tenderness. This is a pig species that has been around for several thousand years, but which MI farmers tend to crossbreed with varieties that are tough enough to make it through the harsh Northern Michigan winters. The result, unfortunately, is a pig that matches up perfectly with the definition of a feral pig included in the DNR Order.
Enter Jason Foscolo (the unlikely ally). Jason is an agricultural Lawyer from New York State who worked with heritage hog farmers in MI to form the American Mangalitsa Breeders Association to, among other things “help members jointly manage the reputation of the breed and be able to intercede on their behalf whenever regulation or market forces jeopardized their interests”. And due to the existence of this organization, Jason was able to intercede on the farmers’ behalf, eventually procuring a Enter Jason Foscolo, an agricultural Lawyer from New York State. Jason not only helped to form the organization, he was instrumental in helping negotiate an agreement with the DNR that at least purebred Magalistas will be protected.
The choice to classify feral pigs based on their anatomical traits, rather than whether they happened to be running amok (and evidence suggests that most of the hogs that are doing so are escapees from “hunting clubs”), rather than whether or not they are contained on a farm may have simply been an oversight.
But some farmers believe it has been an intentional and concerted effort led by the large confinement hog factories common in the state under the leadership of the Michigan Pork Producers Association, and with good reason.
Click Read More Below to continue reading this crazy tale.
At the bottom of this post there is a youtube video that has been watched over 75,000 times featuring one of these farmers and I have to admit, it’s quite compelling. There is also an article available on the web in which a representative of the Michigan Pork Producers Association, an industry lobby group, states point blank that they: “are involved in this”.
Whether one believes the conspiracy theories or not, it does seem strange that the DNR has systematically targeted small heritage pig farms – threatening arrest, and either killing the farmers’ pigs, or giving the farmers the “choice” to do so themselves in what seems an absurdly ironic attempt at providing the illusion of compassion and choice in this process.
In any case, as Jason says “Farmers have a whole array of legal resources at their disposal they can use to scale-up their power. There is of course the cooperative, which we have posted about numerous times. The Lanham Act, where our modern trademark law comes from, has a class of trademarks that farmers can use to collectively market agricultural goods. Neither of these examples, just two among many, are revolutionary legal concepts. They are proven organizational tools that have been used for ages by Big Food to protect their interests, conduct their business, and maintain their market dominance. Small-scale farmers have equal access to them all, but they just aren’t using them yet.”
You can view Jason’s numerous posts on this issue and many others on his website/blog at http://jasonfoscolo.com/