Mike’s Musings– Why is Baker being singled out?
Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
Mark Baker won round one in circuit court last week. The judge did not allow the DNR’s motion for summary judgment against the Mangalista pig farmer. Therefore, the case will now go to trial. At issue, if you don’t already know, is Baker’s 70 Mangalista pigs, that the DNR has ruled as being “invasive”, thus has demanded the McBain farmer to destroy them. Since he has refused, the DNR has fined Baker $700,000. Baker, of course, says they are not invasive and that the DNR has unfairly singled his farm out.
A couple weeks ago I was alerted by a Marion man about an article that appeared on mlive.com. a couple of weeks ago. It talked about a Mangalista pig farmer in Williamston, Mi. who is the world’s largest breeder of Mangalistas. Granted most of his pigs are housed in farms in his native Austria where he has 16,500 sows producing 70,000 pigs a year, but Wilhelm Kohl also has a large 51-acre Mangalista farm in Williamston which has 400 to 500 pigs.
For whatever reason Kohl isn’t concerned, and the DNR isn’t fining his breeding operation. In fact Kohl welcomed breeders from throughout the United State, including Peter Toth, known as the godfather of the Mangalista breed, to a day-long symposium capped with a snout-to-tail dinner at a restaurant near Lansing.
According to breeders, Mangalistas are quite the opposite of invasive. Kohl calls a Mangalista pig “the Kobe beef of pork.” He added, “They can produce the best taste, quality ever known in pig.”
Mangalistas, which are quickly gaining in popularity among high-end restaurants and retailers, originally was developed for the rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 200 years ago. They dominated the European lard market until World War II when cooking oils and modern meat production facilities pushed them out. By 1991, there were only 198 Mangalistas alive in the entire world.
So I ask, why is Baker and his 70 pigs being singled out? I think the DNR should leave the guy alone. If others are raising the same breed, then Baker should be allowed to do so as well.
Harrison Chamber needs to reassess,
The Harrison Chamber of Commerce held a meeting earlier this week to decide whether to continue servicing the business community or disband. A firm believer in the great things a chamber can do for a community, when I read the Harrison email, I was saddened. How could such a venerable institution be in such dire straits?
The answer is easy. I think the Harrison chamber, although great at putting on the Frostbite Festival in February, has not always served the best interest of their members. For one, their membership fee of $200, seems high when compared to other cities. For instance, Marion’s membership fee is $50.
This newspaper has trade agreements with all the area chambers, with the exception of Harrison. They refuse to exchange services for whatever reason. I haven’t been a member for three years because their leadership, in my opinion, has not been business friendly. I have heard over and over, how they favor certain businesses over others. You can’t do that in a small town and expect to prosper.
I would strongly urge the Harrison Chamber to reassess their priorities, but by all means do not disband. Job one should be to promote the business community. Get out on the streets and talk to individual businesses. Find out what they expect from their Chamber. Find out what they are willing to pay, and do for their fellow businesspeople and the community.
Harrison has a lot of positives. The slogan “20 lakes within 20 minutes” is excellent. Tourists and cabin owners come to this town by the thousands. A vibrant Chamber is needed to serve these tourists and more importantly, the businesses that work very hard to survive.