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Refusal to Enforce Feral Swine Ban Puts Jobs at Risk
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Thousands of local agricultural jobs, MI tax dollars at risk from invasive species.


Source: Agricultural Leaders of Michigan

Agricultural Leaders of Michigan: Refusal to Enforce Feral Swine Ban Puts Jobs at Risk


Agricultural Leaders of Michigan today said the stunning reversal on the state ban against feral swine and non-native wild hogs, announced late Friday by the Department of Natural Resources, endangers agricultural businesses, family farms, local jobs and Michigan’s natural resources.

"This reckless decision to abandon sound science, common sense and good policy aimed at protecting tens of thousands of local jobs from a destructive invasive species endangers our economy and the interests of our citizens,” said Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. “At a time when our leaders in Michigan should be doing everything in their power to support agriculture, our state’s second-largest economy, they have instead opened the door to an invasive species that scientists have described as a nightmare for agriculture, wildlife management and our natural resources. Michigan agricultural, conservation, wildlife, sporting and outdoor organizations have strongly insisted and will continue to insist that a ban is the best way to fight Michigan’s feral swine problem.”

MDNR Invasive Species Order 2010-1, which bans feral swine and imported wild hogs by declaring them an invasive species, was to go into permanent effect on Friday, July 8. Instead of enforcing the order, the DNR delayed implementation until October so the Legislature, which is currently on summer break until September, could pass and Gov. Rick Snyder could sign legislation “regulating” these invasive species.

“Every day of delay in enforcing the ban against feral swine and imported wild hogs puts Michigan businesses, local jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investments at risk,” said David Armstrong, CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services. “The scientific evidence is clear: A ban is the best way to fight feral swine. This decision to delay enforcement is a step backwards for Michigan’s agricultural economy and the thousands of jobs this important sector employs.”

“Michigan’s dairy sector is disappointed with the decision to delay the ban,” said Ken Nobis, president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

Michigan agriculture employs more than 1 million people statewide and generates more than $71.3 billion a year. Estimated by experts to number upwards of 2,000, feral swine have been reported to destroy entire farms, devastate essential crops, eat young livestock and wildlife and spread dangerous diseases such as pseudorabies and bovine tuberculosis that are deadly to Michigan’s livestock sector and can wipe out entire herds. Michigan’s dairy industry, the state’s largest single commodity, employs more than 26,500 people and generates more than $6 billion every year. Michigan’s promising pork sector employs 6,000 people and generates more than $500 million.

In addition, property owners have reported significant damages from feral swine, a prolific breeder capable of producing nearly two litters of around 6 piglets every year for as many as 12 years.

Animal experts say feral swine are overwhelmingly the descendants of escaped non-native razorbacks and Russian boars imported into Michigan from outside by shooting facilities. One of the nation’s top experts on feral swine, Dr. Jack Mayer, told news media in April that the best way to fight feral swine is through a ban.

On Friday, July 8, a 2010 state ban was expected to go into permanent effect since the Legislature has not passed proposals to “regulate” feral swine. The House has passed controversial and widely criticized legislation to “regulate” feral swine and make taxpayers pick up the costs. The Senate has not acted. In fact, Sen. Rick Jones is introducing legislation to codify the ban against feral swine and imported wild hogs into state law – a move ALM supports.

“Poultry and livestock producers across Michigan have said time and time again that Michigan must let stand the ban against feral swine and imported wild hogs – and it is time for our leaders in Michigan to listen to local agricultural businesses and the people,” said George House, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Inc. “This U-turn on sound public policy designed to protect jobs, people and our food supply is disappointing and will set Michigan agriculture back. It will carry a heavy price tag for agriculture and Michigan taxpayers that we simply cannot afford.”

“The feral swine problem is a real threat to Michigan agriculture and the refusal to enforce the ban will make this problem worse,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “Michigan agriculture, local businesses and more than 1 million Michigan citizens who work in this sector have repeatedly called on Lansing to protect local jobs and local property owners from this destructive invasive species. Michigan agriculture needs action now, not more delays.”

“We are disappointed that our leaders in Lansing are not fighting the very real problem of feral swine with the same energy they have shown in fighting Asian carp, zebra mussels, emerald ash borer and other invasive species that endanger Michigan jobs and our natural resources,” said Ben Kudwa, legislative director of the Potato Growers of Michigan Inc. “Other states are working around the clock to stop invasive species from coming across their borders and threatening their jobs and natural resources. We must do the same here in Michigan.”

CONTACTS:

  • Dave Armstrong, President and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services:
    (517) 318-2290
  • Ken Nobis, President of the Michigan Milk Producers Association:
    (248) 474-6672
  • George House, Executive Director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Inc.:
    (616) 676-5593
  • Ben Kudwa, Legislative Director of the Potato Growers of Michigan:
    (517) 669-8377
  • Sam Hines, Executive Vice President, Michigan Pork Producers Association:
    (517) 853-3782
  • Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association:
    (517) 336-0223