Family Farm Defenders is encouraging food sovereignty advocates to appear in court in Neillsville to express their solidarity with the Amish farmer being targeted by the State of Wisconsin in its first effort to enforce mandatory premises registration, stage one of the controversial National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
The Weston A Price Foundation point out that "Even now, NAIS is not a voluntary program. USDA is driving mandatory implementation by funding state NAIS programs with tens of millions of our tax dollars. Wisconsin and Indiana have already adopted regulations making premises registration mandatory. Other states are following their lead; Vermont has proposed regulations, while Pennsylvania is considering a statute. States all over the country are enrolling people in the premises registration program without those individuals' permission. And in contrast to USDA's assertion in this Guide that there are "no enforcement mechanisms or penalties," Wisconsin's regulations provide for revocation of licenses and penalties of up to $1,000 for failure to register, while the proposed Texas regulations included fines of up to $1,000 per day and even criminal penalties. To claim that NAIS is "voluntary" is contrary to the normal definition of this term. The USDA is redefining words in the tradition of George Orwell's 1984.
click here the request of DATCP - the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection - Clark County District Attorney, Darwin Zweig, filed a civil forfeiture complaint against Emmanuel on Oct. 2nd, 2008. If found guilty, Mr. Miller could be subject to a fine of up to $5000.
"This case being pursued against Mr. Miller would set a dangerous legal precedent and only serves to foster an atmosphere of hostility and discrimination against certain rural communities who should be welcomed as part of the future of sustainable agriculture in Wisconsin," noted John E. Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders. "While literally thousands of farmers have refused to comply with the state's mandatory premises registration for many valid reasons, it is painfully obvious that the state has chosen to go after Mr. Miller as a scapegoat in hopes of intimidating others into compliance."
Family Farm Defenders note that on Aug. 6th, 2008 Mr. Miller and another Amish elder traveled to Milwaukee to speak out against NAIS before the DATCP board meeting, gaining media attention and drawing the ire of government officials. Since 2003 Wisconsin has received millions in federal taxpayer dollars to aggressively implement statewide premises registration for all those who own livestock.
Those who have refused to "voluntarily" comply, including many Amish, have since:
1. received threatening government letters,
2. been denied milk licenses, and/or
3. found themselves registered against their will by the state.
Under NAIS, the next steps after premises registration will be mandatory RFID (radio frequency identification) chipping and government tracking of all livestock movements.
"Other concerns in Wisconsin ... is [sic] that the system is not maintained by state government, but instead relies upon the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) to maintain the database of Premises ID registrants. This is currently continuing with the RFID tagging database as well http://www.wiid.org/index.php?action=anid_about. The WLIC is a private interest group made up of Big Agribusiness, including Cargill, Genetics/Biotech Corporations, like ABS Global, and RFID tagging companies such as Digital Angel, http://www.wiid.org/index.php?action=wlicnew_board and many of these members parallel NIAA membership http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/members/memberdirectory.asp. There are also in fact only 6 RFID tags that are approved by WLIC/NAIS at this time: 2 manufactured by Allflex, 2 by Digital Angel, one by Y-Tex and 1 by Global Animal Management. All four are WLIC members. http://www.wiid.org/index.php?action=anid_approved
click here includes Monsanto.
Family Farm Defenders will be watching this case closely and intends to work with legal counsel to appeal any court decision that would punish any livestock owner, Amish or otherwise, for exercising their religious freedom and food sovereignty in opposition to further implementation of NAIS in Wisconsin.
Mr. Paul-Martin Griepentrog, a farmer in Northern Wisconsin and friend to Mr. Miller is filing a pro se amicus brief in the case.
Mr. Griepentrog says "The Organic folks seem to want someone for Sec of Ag that will dole out money to them. They should be careful of what they wish for. Government handouts always have strings attached. No one can serve two masters."
He spoke of his family's origins and "the reason for their exodus, religious persecution. Not an uncommon occurrence in those times, as this country was, for many, the destination of the oppressed. In an ironic twist of fate we now have come full circle, with our government becoming the oppressors of religious freedom."
He also described in a previous situation in Wisconsin stemming from the outbreak of psuedo rabies in Clark Co. 47 Amish farms had their hogs killed, because of two positive tests in Russian boar pigs, pointing out that the only farmers to have their animals killed by DATCP, were the ones who did not have premise certification. Three had eliminated livestock to avoid certification. Then, the Wisc. DATCP took it upon themselves to prosecute only one of the 44 farmers remaining. Emmanuel Miller Jr. was chosen for prosecution. He had written a letter to the DA Darwin Zwieg, stating that collectively the group had decided to leave it up to Zwieg and Judge Jon Counsell to find an attorney to represent them.
"In an act of faith reminiscent of Daniel, the letter indicated that the Amish would trust that God's guidance would direct them."
Duane Brander, Compliance Officer, acting under orders from Dr. Paul McGraw DVM head of the animal health division of the Dept of Agriculture determined that forced compliance was necessary. In an effort to make a landmark case against the religious objections of the Amish and others. Zweig stated that "the case was filed as a complex forfeiture."
The case is subject to administrative civil procedure, and under Wisconsin statutes, by a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant must proof innocence. Although used in other countries, it is for the prosecution of organized crime.
Mr. Griepentrop commented that "Although the Amish are organized in a communal sense and certainly can be witnessed at any barn raising, any application of the word criminal certainly doesn't apply."
"However the severe inconvenience of the DATCP personnel, having to go door to door, to search farms for hogs in the area, deprived of their ivory towers with air conditioning, their laptops to simply plug in premise registrations is tantamount of high treason, against the administrative bodies enforcing Big Ag's corporate agenda. http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=1325&yr=2008
Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. and other organizations have strong ties to USDA and government officials, including Wisconsin's agricultural committees. And though diseases are supposedly a concern, one farmer noted that those organizations continue to advocate for the import of diseases livestock from foreign countries. "Whether as willful intent to do harm, or depraved indifference, the results are the same. Nothing is being done to stem the source of these diseases."
Farmers opposing NAIS believe that diseases are a concern but that they can only be addressed at the source.
Meanwhile, the situation has only worsened, as premise registration grants warrantless searches, fines and forfeitures, never mentioned by those promoting the program.
And there is deep concern over why any farmer needs to register his property since it registered already.