The story of Mark Baker and his supposedly feral pigs has been in the news for a while (See links at bottom). Now finally, the state has conceded. They’ve given up their attempt to force Mr. Baker to stop farming his non-standard breed of pigs. Meanwhile, the weird “law” which he was fighting supposedly remains on the books as applying to other farmers. And yet, how can Baker’s case not be precedent setting? David Gumpert spells it all out for us:
“The state of Michigan angrily gave in to farmer Mark Baker, telling a state judge that the farmer can continue to raise his hybrid pigs clearly forbidden by the state’s contentious Invasive Species Order. What’s unclear is how the state’s move affects other farmers.
The state made its move in a desperate effort to avoid a trial, scheduled to begin March 11, that was based on a suit brought by Baker to force clarification of the ISO and its broad prohibition of pretty much all pigs that aren’t raised by corporate producers.
In a Lake City courtroom packed with 100 Baker supporters, Judge William Fagerman reluctantly dismissed the suit brought by Baker after a Michigan assistant attorney general, Harold Martin, assured the judge that the state was fine with the Russian hybrids being raised by Baker. “I could see the pain in the judge’s face,” Baker recounted shortly afterwards. Fagerman, after all, is the judge who had several months ago rejected the state’s effort to dismiss Baker’s suit and ruled that Baker did have enough of an argument about the vagueness of the ISO and concerns about the DNR’s authority, to warrant a trial.
But because the state wasn’t seeking any longer to bar Baker from raising his pigs, and wasn’t seeking to impose the $700,000 fine it levied last year, Baker technically had no case. “The ruling was correct….Any pig with a straight or curly tail is a problem, except on my farm,” Baker said.
On his web site, Baker put it this way: “Despite the fact….that our pigs are Russian Boar hybrids (clearly prohibited in the ISO) is OK with the DNR and our pigs are legal. This is a complete turnaround from everything they’ve stated to date and left our jaws on the table. However, the net result was it gave the judge little choice but to state that there was no longer a conflict. The practical questions were still on the table, but the legal status was changed with (the state lawyer’s) statement. There was no more disagreement about whether or not the Invasive Species Order applied to us—we both agreed that it should not apply. The judge chose to ignore the Declaratory Ruling, which almost perfectly describes our pigs….”