Wisconsin livestock owners already have to register their properties with the state, but many groups are resisting the next step. Beginning this week, the United State Department of Agriculture is holding hearings around the country on the National Animal Identification System , or NAIS.
"The National Animal Identification System really is focused on animal disease," explains Gil Hammerschmidt, NAIS coordinator with the USDA. "It will allow us to identify animals and track or record their movements, really to help animal health officials really to help animal health officials to have the information, in order to respond in a more timely manner to animal disease events." Animal ID is the second part of a three-step modernization process. The first being premise registration, the third is animal tracing. Hammerschmidt says animal identification could work several different ways; including placing traceable chips placed in livestock cattle
While many producer groups support the concept, others fear an overbearing government. Many Clark County Amish farmers refuse to comply with premise registration, saying it will lead to the tagging of all animals, or the biblical 'Mark of the Beast.' Clark County's District Attorney, Darwin Zwieg, filed the first test case for the law in Clark County Circuit Court. The Amish farmer, Emmanuel Miller, Jr. of Loyal, will go before the court in July.
"That electronic I-D number will feed into an international database" says, Pete Kennedy is the Interim President of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund , which opposes NAIS. "Our members sees this as a part of the 'Mark of the Beast' system, establishing a universal system of control that was warned about in the book of Revelations."
Kennedy has concerns with NAIS which are more prosaic than some of his group's members. He says the system will prove too costly for small farmers, likely driving them out of business, and won't really help animal health. While there may be some good intentions on the part of producers, Kennedy also sees ulterior motives pushing NAIS forward. "There's definitely a lot of money to be made," he says, noting that chip manufacturers have already made millions on the project. "There's basically two food systems in this country right now, the industrial food system and the local food system. This program is a competitive advantage for the industrial food system."