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Amish Farmers Sue Michigan, USDA Over RFID Tags

Written By Isabel Cowles
Last updated: February 15, 2023

Amish farmers are suing for being forced to use radio frequency identification (RFID) on cows, which violates scriptural warnings.

Amish Wary of RFID, Cite Scriptural Ties to the Devil

Amish farmers are suing the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for forcing them to impose “the mark of the Beast” on their livestock.

The Amish faith, known for its literal interpretations of the Bible, conflicts with Michigan’s imposition of a law requiring farmers to use radio frequency ID devices on their cattle to help track and identify animals and prevent the spread of diseases like mad cow and foot and mouth.

The USDA National Animal Identification System (NAIS) effort to create a network of registered livestock involves implanting identification devices called 840s into individual animals. “Available in visual only eartags, radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags and injectable transponders, 840 devices use a standardized 15-digit numbering system,” the USDA Web site explains.

Although the USDA intended the NAIS devices to be voluntary, the Michigan Department of Agriculture has legally required the system. Previously, all cattle wore metal ear tags for identification purposes—even those on Amish farms. But the Michigan Department of Agriculture announced that on March 1, 2007, “All cattle must be identified with an official radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tag prior to movement from a Michigan premises.”

According to Amish belief, the insistence that all livestock be implanted with a chip represents an “ongoing attempt to number every living thing, a practice mentioned in Revelations where it is linked with the Devil,” the Daily Telegraph explains.   

The Bush administration argues that the case should be dismissed, noting that the USDA never made the radio frequency ID chips mandatory. In a statement, the administration explained that nothing within Michigan’s adaptation of the law, “prevents the Michigan Department of Agriculture from granting appropriate religious exemptions imposed by that department,” Wired magazine reports.  

Sources in this Story

  • United States Department of Agriculture: NAIS Animal Identification
  • Michigan RFID Education Task Force: Mandatory Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) of Cattle in Michigan
  • The Daily Telegraph: Amish sue US government for ‘mark of the Beast’ on livestock
  • Wired: Threat Level blog: Bush Administration: Dismiss RFID ‘Mark of the Beast’ Lawsuit
  • Wired: RFID: Sign of the (End) Times?

Although the Amish are especially traditional in their adherence to the Bible, other Christians have also resisted the implantation of radio frequency identification, citing scriptural warnings of “the mark of the Beast” even where passports, credit or debit cards and electronic barcodes are concerned.

Christian consumer advocate Katherine Albrecht wrote a book entitled “The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist RFID and Electronic Surveillance.” Albrecht said in an interview with Wired magazine that “My goal as a Christian (is) to sound the alarm.”

Reference: Official Amish complaint

Wired magazine hosts a PDF file of the official complaint put forth by Amish farmers against the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the USDA.

Source: Wired

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Related: Amish conflicts with U.S. customs and law

The Amish population has doubled in the last 16 years. As a result, conflicts with other aspects of American society have become increasingly prevalent, especially as Amish farmers and workers branch out into new regions in search of farmland and work opportunities.

Source: findingDulcinea

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The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty of Washington, D.C. is suing Morristown, New York on behalf of Amish residents who claim their religious rights are being infringed upon. City officials have insisted on the installment of fire alarms, the submission of engineering plans and inspections of Amish homes, efforts that contradict the Amish way of life according to the Amish community’s interpretation of the Bible.

Source: Watertown Daily Times

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In 2006, an Amish farmer contested an Ohio law forbidding the sale of raw milk, claiming that it infringed upon his faith by prohibiting him from sharing food he produced with others. “While I can and I have food, I’ll share it,” the farmer said, before meeting with a judge. “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.”

Source: Fox News

Charles Eames

Isabel was a writer for findingDulcinea from spring 2007 until March 2009. Before joining the team, Isabel worked as a freelance editor for Alfred A. Knopf and harvested heirloom tomatoes from an organic farm. Isabel has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Read TASTE, Isabel’s personal blog about her cooking-related trials and errors.

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