Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/31/rfid_cows/
Amish farmers lose court battle against RFID
Beasts must still be numbered, says court
Michigan farmers have failed in their attempt to block the introduction of RFID tags for cattle, despite arguments about the cost and the risk of upsetting an otherwise benevolent deity.
The case was bought by the catchily-named Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defence Fund (FTCLDF), representing small farmers in Michigan as well as a group of six Amish farmers: the former concerned about the cost of the tags, while the latter were more worried about eternal damnation brought on by applying numbers to God's own cattle.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) tried to get the case dismissed back in November last year, but only now has it managed to have the case thrown out on the basis that it is a Michigan ruling and thus subject to state laws, rather than part of any agenda being set by the USDA as part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), against which the plaintiff's case was based.
Even in Michigan the law is intended to be voluntary, but the plaintiffs clearly believe that the voluntary status is just a ruse under which a mandatory ruling can be later implemented, which would threaten their livelihoods, or eternal souls, as appropriate. It's worth noting, as the Judge did, that even Amish cattle already have numbered metal ear studs, so the contention that numbering cattle is against God's law was already in shaky ground.
As for the USDA agenda, RFID Journal covers the case in some detail including quotes from a Michigan representative explaining:
"We implemented this program nearly 10 years ago... This was done pre-NAIS. Michigan is the only state with a mandatory electronic animal-tracking program, but it is also the only state with documented bovine TB cases"
Electronic tracking, in this instance, doesn't necessarily mean RFID tags. The same thing can be, and is, achieved using the existing metal studs, with the data gathered electronically whenever the cattle are moved. But such assurances aren't going to dent a good conspiracy theory about federal control. ®