Boosting Big Farms at the Expense of Small Ones

It’s about as hard as ever to be a small famer in America. Some difficulties are simply a consequence of competition, by which both farmers (compelled to be more innovative) and consumers (getting better goods at lower prices) benefit.

Yet, when government, itself, becomes a burden and hardship for small famers, we have tolerated what we need not have tolerated, enduring a problem not of weather or competition, but of our own doing.

There are countless small farms in America, including some that, owing to the need to find a niche despite their size, have hit upon raising animals that will be both hardy and marketable. One such farm is Baker’s Green Acres of Michigan, where hog farmer Mark Baker is raising a stout variety of swine suitable to Michigan’s climate.

He’s also battling a Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulation that finds so-called feral swine an invasive species, even if the hogs are actually being raised on small farms for profit. That is, the regulation identifies some hogs as wild even when they’re a small farm’s livestock.

Rather than simply target hogs that are in the wild, the rules also hit small family farms, competing against the large farms of major pork-producers and their lobbying association.

Who benefits? Big Agriculture, at the expense of sought-after, small-farm alternatives that foodies and some restaurants prefer. Over-broad regulations, justified flimsily, and disproportionately benefitting some businesses over others, should be suspect.

For more about this story, with criticism of Michigan’s regulations from both left and right, please see Feral Fight: Family Farm Battles Mich. Over Ban That Will Kill Livestock and Livelihood and Exotic Swine Ban In Michigan Brings Backlash.

(Note that Baker’s Green Acres still has its livestock during litigation over the Michigan regulation.)

Immediately below is a video, one of a series, from Mark Baker of Baker’s Green Acres. Although it’s a simple effort, from a farmer who’s unaccomplished in public relations, it’s heartfelt and sincere, making it more valuable than a dozen polished, carefully-scripted videos. This is a story worth following, with a hat tip to the Wisconsin Happy Farm for the story.

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