Local Food in the Crosshairs: The Unbelievable Saga of Mark and Jill Baker

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist July 6, 2013

Baker familyI first met Mark and Jill Baker at the Speakers’ Dinner at the 2012 Wise Traditions Conference in Santa Clara, California.  Mark, Jill and I sat at the same table that evening and the three of us along with several other folks stayed up long after dinner had finished talking about a wide range of topics related to the growing local food movement in America.

Mark and Jill are the kind of family you would want living next door. Honest and hardworking with 8 beautiful children, the family works together to run Baker’s Green Acres, a small, peaceful, local farm in Marion, Michigan – a jewel of their community.

Baker’s Green Acres is a sustainable farm where, among other bio-diverse activities, the family raises a heritage breed of hogs called Mangalitsa, a special breed that produces a gourmet quality meat prized by high-end restaurants as well as health conscious consumers seeking nutrient dense, locally produced meat.

Mark and Jill started Baker’s Green Acres 10 years ago after Mark retired after 20 years serving his country in the US Air Force. Unfortunately, the country he put his life on the line to protect has not afforded him the freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness he thought he was defending.

Any Pig Living in the Open Air Deemed “Feral” and “Illegal”

The problems all started back in 2010 when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued the Invasive Species Order, approved by the governor, which banned all heritage pigs.

The DNR order is intentionally ambiguous in its description of what it calls “feral” pigs.

Ambiguity renders power, essentially allowing the DNR to shut down any hog farmer it chooses.

According to Mark, “They’re saying any pig with a curly tail or a straight tail is an illegal pig … any pig with floppy ears or erect ears is an illegal pig.”

In essence, any pigs were deemed illegal if not living within a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), those huge, abhorrent industrialized farms run by Big Ag where unspeakable acts of animal cruelty, filth and negligence take place behind closed doors and beyond the prying eyes of the public.

Unbelievably, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources arrogantly labeled any pig living outside in the open air as “feral” and ordered owners of such pigs to destroy them.

Yes, this is what is happening today – right NOW – in the United States of America.  Sounds more like the Soviet Russia we learned about in history class where people could be locked up for having a backyard garden!

Baker’s Green Acres Refuses to Comply With Pig Destruction Order

In what no doubt took an incredible amount of courage, Mark and Jill decided to defy the DNR order.

They have sued the state of Michigan seeking to prove in court that the Michigan Pork Producers Association is the initiator of the law classifying all non-CAFO pigs as a “feral” invasive species.

Mark’s belief is that the growing popularity of heritage-breed meat and poultry threatens the factory farming, industrial confinement model.  Big Ag will stop at nothing to eliminate the competition while still in its infancy stage but growing rapidly.

According to a recent interview with Food Riot Radio, Mark said:

“If they can issue a declaratory ruling that says anything with a straight tail or curly tail is an illegal pig, and neither the governor, the legislature or the courts say ‘hey wait a minute,’ then what’s to stop them from issuing a declaratory ruling that says any cow that is brown is feral and must be disposed of, or any chicken that is not raised in a hen house is a feral chicken?”

“Industrial agriculture wants all the market share. They want all the small farmers off the land, and they want to own the entire food production model.”

“Our little pig thing is a microcosm of what’s going on nationally. If we let Big Ag win, it will be a grim future for our children and grandchildren. We’re all in this together.”

Through his courageous stand for Food Freedom, it seems that Mark Baker is helping to secure the continued right of Americans to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they see fit more as a farmer than he ever did as a soldier.

Mark and Jill Need Our Help Now!

Click here to lend your support to: Stand with Bakers Green Acres! and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !Mark and Jill’s case against the state of Michigan to overturn this order has cost their family dearly.

This family is at the end of its rope financially – the state is seeking fines of $700,000 and has impaired their ability to sell food from the farm – literally trying to starve them out and put them on the street with continued delay tactics. The last I heard, even their power had been cut off.

Mark’s plea:

“There are plenty of us [farmers] that are fighters, perpetual warriors, but we don’t have ammunition to put this fight on. So we’re looking to other Americans and saying please give us some ammunition, and that’s money, U.S. dollars. You can pray for me and pat me on the back and that’s great, but if I can’t pay lawyers to do their job, it doesn’t happen. And I’m at the end of my rope right now, and I need help. There it is — I need help.”

Can you please help them?  Donations of any size would be a blessing. It is farms like Baker’s Green Acres that must be saved for a future to exist where our children and grandchildren have the right to choose food to nourish themselves from the local farms of their choosing – free from an industrially produced model.

The hopeful news is that a court hearing is finally coming this month with a celebration of the farm to follow.  If you live anywhere in Michigan and can support them at the court hearing or farm event, here are the details:

July 12-13, 2013
2:00pm
Missaukee County Courthouse
111 Canal Street Lake City MI

Food Freedom is the civil rights movement of our time.  Let’s all stand together as modern day Patriots to support Mark and Jill and help them set an important precedent against the bureaucratic food terror being wreaked against local farms producing the type of food we need and our children deserve to live a long, healthy life.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources:

Baker’s Green Acres

Mark Baker Asks America for Help

Heritage Hog Farmer Mark Baker Struggles to Hold on to His Livelihood and his Patriotism

 

Comments (77)

  1. Sad to say it but the world and our beloved USA are changing and moving toward the New World Order. More will see unfortunately. I agree with DRSW comment July 7 and Lynee on July 6. God Bless America.

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  2. http://instagram.com/p/brc8d3EUAB/#

    That link is to the instagram video I took of all the people waiting at the courthouse (bsnmamamurphy is my username). It was standing room only inside the courtroom – people were packed in like sardines – and the sheriff couldn’t let everyone in. There was press there, both tv and print. CadillacNews.com has published a story on its site already.

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  3. This is outrageous! Yes, I believe it’s about control and the biggest factor is greed, which translates to money. I know that someone said earlier that a petition is not needed but there is one that I believe would do wonders. Avaaz.org – The World in Action. People from all over the world can either donate or sign the petition in support. They even encourage people to start their own campaign. It’s so amazing that there is no conscience in our leaders of today.

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  4. I would like to come and show my support on Friday but I live in Toledo, OH. I see it says “anyone living in Michigan” can come show support – I’m wondering is that a general invitation for anyone in the area or do you have to live in Michigan to come?

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    • I think it would be FANTASTIC for you to attend and it would send a strong message that this issue affects everyone and that people everywhere are intensely interested in the outcome of this debacle. You could bring some friends from Ohio and let the organizers know you are coming so they can spread the word.

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  5. Granny Good-Law July 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

    These folks need to understand the nature of the courts these days. Most of us assume that there is justice if we present the facts; we are innocent and that will win the day. Not so! Facts are on the moon. We are no longer dealing with Common Law, but Statutory Law. If we don’t begin to grasp this, we will lose every time. This time it’s pigs; tomorrow it may be the children.

    http://www.barefootsworld.net/sui_juris/uccconnection.html

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  6. We have a local restaurant here called 8 Twelve…it is owned by Ryan Braun (from the Milwaukee Brewers) and Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers). They actually raise Mangalitsa pork for the restaurant. I posted it there…maybe it will get some more press because of the celebrity factor. Here’s praying!!

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  7. The only reason you get away with calling this the “civil rights” issue of our time is because all of your readers must be white. Civil rights were just violated with the Supreme Court over ruling parts of the Voting Rights Act. I hope Sarah that you claim some responsibility for acts by unhinged people who read your blog and get so incensed against “the government” that they go the way of Timothy McVeigh. You up your readership with inflammatory language and then you – like other provacateurs – claim no responsibility for how people act as a result. The government is people we elected, and the people who work for the government are us as well – just like the farmer in the story who worked for the government military. Yes, we need to support this family with dollars. We also need to stop the anti-government rhetoric. Enough already! There are just so many other ways to have written this story. How did my desire for good food land me in the middle of the right wing crazies? After all Sarah, you seem to be one of the smartest and best educated of the real food bloggers I have found – so disappointing.

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    • You, obviously, don’t have a handle yet on what the gov’t is doing. Actually, the gov’t is the puppet of the gigantic corporations that run the world, and there are only a few of them. THEY run “our” government; we, the people, don’t.

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    • MsJob…

      Unfortunately it is the government that is shutting down your only resource for “good food” as you call it. If it were not true then there would be no need for the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund or any others like it.

      Under our constitution the only people who should be able to bring suit against this farmer are his clients… as they are the only one’s who can seek damages, under true constitutional law anyway…. So your perfect “run by us” government is at fault for trying to put this man out of his right to liberty and his pursuit of happiness…. and until we actually do control this monster you will continue to hear about stories like this one as this is happening all around you… and if your government succeeds in being able to sue the small farm for some stupid reason (even though they have not been damaged in any way) then you will no longer have access to your “good food” anymore.

      MsJob, this is a very important issue, and one that needs to be addressed. I am not a right wing crazie, as you put it. I am a farmer and I’ll be damned if my elected officials take away my right to farm… or anyone else’s right to farm! This is the reason for the post.

      IMO you should be po’d at yourself for letting your government do these types of things to us… not the “right wing crazies”… they are the one’s trying to fix the crap you guys and your government let through the cracks.

      And yes, I vote, and yes my husband is a war veteran, and yes I am a farmer! And yes I am mad as hell at what is going on around me!

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    • The ironic thing is that this is happening in a state run by those “right wing crazies”, from Governor Snyder on down. Michigan is a hot mess. This is the state with Snyder’s “Emergency Manager” law (against the people’s wishes), where he can literally go into an area of the state, oust the officials elected by the people, and place an “emergency manager” to take over. CRIMINALS… all of them! Snyder could have stopped this ridiculous, illegal, unconstitutional “feral pig” law.

      The big question is what will the people of Michigan do at the polls in 2014? Will they re-elect these criminals?

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  8. This is all part of Regional Planning and Agenda 21. By using environmental issues planners control private property owners’ rights.

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  9. Anyone who is interested in defending property rights and the rights of farmers and ranchers should visit the Defend Rural America web site. This group is fighting to defend CA against the onslaught of endangered species listings that will close the forest and restrict personal property rights. Website below. They also have a great Facebook page with lots of information.

    http://www.defendruralamerica.com/DRA/About.html

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  10. Jamey Barisoff via Facebook July 6, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    In case any of you haven’t noticed, there is a war on our health. They want us dead! Population reduction. Its sick but our world is contaminated with globalist New World Order scum. They want us unhealthy. They want us sterile. This is why there is gmo everywhere. We must all be ever vigilant and hopefully there is enough good people left out there to stop the insanity.

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  11. I lived 8 years under communism in Romania where you couldn’t even milk your own cow. My father risked his life so we could escape to here. The American people have no clue how evil government gets if you let it.

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    • Thank you Michelle, for warning the citizens of this nation what could happen if we are silent. The evil is already huge, but always, God can change that. We all must be ready to speak out against tyranny, wherever it may be. Thanks Sarah, for being willing to speak out about this, in a way that engages us to DO something! God bless!

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  12. When I started reading this article, I thought it’s going to be inspirational. Anyway, this is so saddening. I would like to know what the definitions for feral and illegal pigs are. I’m still confused here. Also, I would like to know the standard procedure to raise pigs. This is really interesting.

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    • It certainly is confusing but what I do know, having been to this farm, is that that while the pigs are pasture-raised, they are most certainly fenced in and not getting out into the wild. These animals are well cared for, allowing their pigness to be honored — and until now, were highly sought after by chefs and home cooks alike.

      Standard procedure for commercially raised pigs is an indoor and well hidden abomination, but the method used here is natural and respectful. These types of farms should be held up as a model to celebrate and emulate, not something to harass and shut down. Farms like this restore the food supply and the environment, providing true food security and diversity.

      It’s clear that the commercial CAFO industry is the driving force behind this, dictating the actions of governmental bodies. Shame on them. Do not use their products. Buy only from local farms who you actually know.

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      • And give as much as you can to this cause, and join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. They have memberships for consumers and for farmers. It’s an investment in our food freedoms. It’s not something to be left to others. We must all do what we can.

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  13. There is nothing more that I love than to make delicious food for my family, and having a local farmer to supply us pasture raised meats has made coming to the dinner table so enjoyable and healthy. How devistating that this is what is happening in America now. I just pledged my donation, please keep up the fight!! We are all in this together! :-)

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  14. Have they tried contacting The Center for Law and Justice with Jay Sekulow? He is a Christian attorney dedicated to fighting for people just like this family.

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    • MamaBetts – the ACLJ (which we have supported since it was started many years ago) concentrates on religious freedom issues. This is not the kind of case that they do.

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  15. Stories like these make me livid! the government coming after citizens who are trying to make a living and not hurting anyone and fining them outrageous amounts of monies and dragging them through years of legal mess for what purpose? are they that bored at capitol hill? Are they that useless? I wish i lived in Michigan just so i could show up and give them a piece of my mind! I wish a had money to help out too! I AM going to be calling them to tell them what i think about all this that’s for sure! good luck guys I am definitely sharing this story with everyone I know!

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  16. This isn’t just about Big Ag, this is about the U.N.’s Agenda 21 because that is where this kind of action against Americans is coming from. The INTERnational mandatory animal ID scheme is part of this (and no, it’s not *dead*, but we did delay it being implemented). It is a direct assault on private property rights which Agenda 21 states no one is to own private property. Why? So you cannot grow your own food for one thing. Control the food, control the people…those small corporate farmers that are part of what is happening in places like MIchigan don’t even realize that they will also be put out of business and leaving all farming/agriculture to certain mega-agri businesses such as Cargil and Monsanto. They want the whole pie…as in GLOBAL pie. Think I’m kidding about the corp farmers? Look at the dairy industry. In just our state of Arkansas, we used to have thousands of small family dairies that produced more than enough milk for our state. Today we have just over 100 left and most of our milk is being trucked in from states like California. This goes back to the 1980′s. Government had taken control of milk production (and the milk producer’s assoc. let them). Those of us who were using backyard goats/cows wanted a law like Oklahoma had just gotten passed to allow raw milk sales so we used Okla’s new law as a blueprint for one for us. When the opposition to our bill came out, it wasn’t for FOOD SAFETY issues, it was the state dairymen’s assoc. yelling about backyard cows would be COMPETITION for them. So, cows were pulled out of the bill and it was passed with just goat milk (we are allowed to sell up to 100 gallons of raw goat milk a month). Again, this bill was not opposed due to concerns about raw milk being unsafe. Over time, those independent family dairies that stomped on the backyard folks now found themselves unable to stay in business anymore and the big meg-corporate dairies taking over. This is what will happen to the corporate CAFO independent pig farmers that want to run out the little guys. Cargill, etc. are already building their compounds in other states with swine and poultry. Poultry producers in Arkansas – and swine – are already finding themselves up the creek with no buyers for their birds/pigs. Tyson and Cargill sending nice letters to let them know that they don’t “need” the farmer’s animals anymore because they are raising their own. As one swine farmer told us personally, “I did it the way they said to do it, went into debt building these barns, etc. and now I have barns full of pigs and no where to go with them and a huge mortgage that I can’t pay. What am I going to do??” The independent guys in the middle are not to be allowed to stay in business anymore than the independent family dairies were. These swine producers are being duped and used and they are going to find out on down the road here pretty quick just how gullible and ignorant they were. The backyard animal owners will also be forced out via the animal ID and other laws like the one in Michigan. All the government has to do is proclaim they found just one case of foot and mouth and you will see slaughter of the innocents that will make what happened in the UK look tame. Did you know that years after the UK slaughter it was quietly announced that a lot of the “positive” tests for foot and mouth turned out to be false/wrong and those animals were negative after all? Yet, MILLIONS of healthy animals were killed for just a few they said were positive…Speaking as a person whose family is generational farmers/ranchers and as a homesteader for over 30 years. We’ve literally owned hundreds and hundreds of animals/livestock over our lifetime and for 8 years we were in the think of the battle to stop the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). We only managed to delay it (it was supposed to be fully implemented by Jan. 2009) but they changed the name (nullifying overnight the anti-NAIS laws in five states) and changed tactics, resorting to “interstate commerce” to force animal ID/premise registration (that’s why we will never take an animal out of state again) and other tactics such as we are seeing in Michigan. It’s not about food safety and it’s not about animal disease, it’s about controlling people. We are part of the global herd and we are being rounded up and pushed into corrals to be branded (that’s why we are against people “ID”) and managed by our international “owners” like so many head of cattle. Including our “health care” and “end of life” decisions. It’s all connected like the arms on an octopus. One big monster.

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    • Thanks Lynn. Good post with lots of information for people to follow up on and explore. Sounds like we are heading toward a big, scary future. I hope people are paying attention to the things you have said.

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      • This is about Marxism, Agenda 21 and the destruction of personal property rights.
        Sue the hell out of them, now. Ordinary citizens should not be taking this shit lying down ……sue on the local and the federal level.

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    • Funny you say its UN behind it, but since when does the USA do what the UN say’s unless its something they want to do?
      Iraq anyone?

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    • The feral pig issue aside…..Agenda 21…When Glen Beck and Alex Jones are involved, I can’t take this seriously. This is a conspiracy theory that the right wing extremists have run with. It’s nuts.

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    • Here is a thought provoking article by Dr. Mercola on the topic of Codex and Agenda 21:

      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/29/codex-front-groups.aspx

      Front Groups Exposed–50 Industry Groups Form a New Alliance to Manipulate Public Opinion About Junk Food, GMOs, and Harmful Additives

      Story at-a-glance:

      - The United Nations established the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1962. Usually referred to as “Codex,” it consists of approximately 170 member countries that set food guidelines and standards for the world.
      - Over the years, Codex has been embroiled in controversy for a number of reasons, but now our investigations show that Monsanto―one of the world’s largest producers of genetically-modified seeds― is behind a significant number of front groups that control Codex policy.
      - Most recently, more than 50 industry trade groups formed a new alliance called Alliance to Feed the Future. These groups represent multi-national food-, biotech-, and chemical companies that generate hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of revenue each year
      - Alliance to Feed the Future claims its purpose is to “balance the public dialogue” on modern agriculture and large-scale food production and technology. Or, in other words, they aim to become the go-to source for “real” information about the junk being sold as “food”
      - The Kellen Company is instrumental in creating and managing front groups for the processed food and chemical industries. These front groups are specifically created to mislead you about the product in question, protect industry profits, and influence regulatory agencies

      By Dr. Mercola

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    • Belinda Carrico July 9, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Thank you for your helpful explanation! This is collectivism all right, and it’s one big monster, effecting Canada as well!

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  17. Terrillynn West via Facebook July 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Just another attempt to take over the food supply and prevent you from being able to feed yourself.

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  18. Larry Underwood via Facebook July 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    How dare you suggest an animal live outside when you’re not willing to yourself? (This the mentally ill mentality of vegans)

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    • hold on now dont assume its vegans here. its Gov doing this. Im not vegan but close and my dogs NEVER come inside. its their natural habitat to be outside. bet many of you think thats awful. oh yes they each have their own house they rarely use. only in heavy rain do thay want into thier house!

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    • How did you manage to bring vegans into this? Vegans have NOTHING to do with story ! In fact, vegans have done more for bringing to light the atrocities of CAFO farming than any other group. They aren’t the ones trying to shut down small farms or the selling of raw millk.

      That was a really ignorant thing to say. Do a little fact checking before you spread your prejudiced .ideology.

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  19. Terrillynn West via Facebook July 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Now Government has just declared wildlife illegal. This is CRAZY. I hope that the courts are not a stupid. Kill all animals that do not live in a pen or cage, JUST NUTS.

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    • “Government has just declared wildlife illegal” Please expound – this is something that we have not yet heard.

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      • By claiming that the “feral hogs” are illegal they are in essence saying that wildlife is illegal. Even though these pigs are absolutely not “feral”.

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        • No. They are outlawing the possession of an invasive species. It would hve been nice if this post contained some actual research.

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        • Feral pigs are actually a massive ecological and agricultural nightmare. They cause massive destruction to fields, spread diseases to non-feral pigs that could wipe out an entire herd in a week. I am NOT saying this man’s pigs are feral, or the law is written well. Just relaying that real feral pigs are a massive problem for many states, Michigan likely to be affected in the future. What the gov’t and big ag are doing to this family is horrible, but typical tactics for both.

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  20. Sarah,

    Are they aware of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund? They might be able to help with the legal fees.

    Reply

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