Michigan agriculture is diverse in its makeup and provides consumers a wide range of crops, vegetables, fruits and meat products. Michigan consumers can purchase food products from supermarkets, grocery stores, farmers markets and local outlets knowing that much of what they purchase is produced locally, depending on the season. With a large number of local meat processors, Michigan consumers have a vast choice of meat products that range from national brands to locally processed meats. These local products can differ in a variety of ways from national brands. The differences range from various livestock care and management programs to the recipes used to create processed meat products such as sausages, ham, bacon and the like.
Pork production is a $265 million industry in Michigan, and production practices can range from modern methods where pigs are raised in environmentally controlled buildings to a mix of raising pigs inside and outside dependent on their age to where all pigs are raised outside. Each style of production has its advantages and disadvantages dependent on the type of market that the farmer wishes to market their pigs into, yet all of these different styles of production provide consumers acceptable products for consumption.
The breeds or genetic background used in these different styles of production also can vary dramatically. The breeds a farmer will use typically are matched to the market that the farmer is selling their pigs into. Farmers who sell their pigs into markets that service state and national supermarkets and brands use breeds and crosses that are typically very efficient and lean, which appeals to health conscious consumers. Farmers who market their pigs into local markets or sell their pigs directly to consumers often use breeds and crosses that have more marbling and may differ in their cooking characteristics. Often these farmers will raise pigs outdoors, at least for a portion of their development, and the breeds they use may be more adapted to be raised outdoors.
The state of Michigan recently declared feral swine, and strains of swine that are of Eurasian or Russian Wild Boar heritage to be invasive. This regulatory order does not cover domestic swine breeds and crosses among domestic swine breeds. Furthermore, the order does not infer that domestic pigs that are raised in outdoor production systems are in violation of the order. Pork producers that are producing pigs from domestic breeds and breed crosses for human consumption are not in violation of the order, regardless of the type of production system they use.
Michigan pork producers who raise pigs of domestic breeds and crosses can continue to produce pork regardless of the production system they employ or the domestic market that they target for their pigs. Those producers who produce pigs for local and niche markets enjoy the same assurance as those producers who target markets that serve state and national grocery stores and supermarkets. Michigan consumers can be confident that the variety of different pork products and retail outlets, whether local, state or national will not change. Consumers will continue to enjoy the wide range of pork products within Michigan that they have grown accustomed to.