November 28, 2014

Hearings set on premises registration

Concerns about violating the religious beliefs of farmers could prompt a change in a law that requires livestock to be registered with state and federal agriculture officials.

Assistant state veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw says a proposed rule change would exempt livestock owners who oppose the registration on religious grounds. He says anyone with a firmly held belief that’s part of an established religion would be able to apply for a waiver.

However, McGraw says owners who qualify would have to sign an affidavit and still provide information that would help officials locate livestock, if necessary. He says their premise would not have a code assigned to the location or be included in the national database.

The proposed religious exemption stems from a 2010 ruling in which a Clark County judge dismissed a citation against an Amish farmer from Loyal. The farmer had refused to register his livestock on religious grounds, and the judge ruled that Emanuel Miller Junior showed a sincere religious belief that would be violated by the law.

A second proposed change would make all registrations expire at the same time starting in 2013 – every three years on July 31st. McGraw says that’s intended to help save on administrative costs.

The changes are up for a public hearing Tuesday in Marshfield and then Wednesday in Madison.

AUDIO: Matt Lehman reports (:35)