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Relations between state and Amish growing icy

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Relations are getting a bit more strained between the government and Wisconsin's Amish, 12 years after the Supreme Court tried to let the two co-exist.

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A court battle appears to be shaping up involving a two-year-old state law which makes farmers register their animals with the state, to avoid things like the 2007 pseudo-rabies outbreak in Clark County.

Assistant state veterinarian Paul McGraw said farms in a five-mile radius had to be contacted.

Because half the places were Amish, they had to visit them instead of calling on the phone, which could have saved some vital time had the outbreak spread.

McGraw says the Amish oppose animal registrations because a so-called "mark of the beast" goes against their religion.

Meanwhile, three Amish farmers were recently fined for not wearing blaze orange while deer hunting.

They said it goes against their religious ban on bright clothes. And an Amish couple near Willard was told last month to shut down a mail order candy-and-jam business because it was not licensed.

Both those cases were in Clark County, where the Amish have lived for years.

In neighboring Jackson County, an Amish man was fined $10,000 for not getting a building permit.

The convictions are a relatively new trend.

Back in 1996, the State Supreme Court said the Amish should be given a "least restrictive alternative" when their religion clashes with the law.

The justices said it was OK to put white reflective tape on the back of their horse-drawn buggies, instead of bright orange slow-moving-vehicle signs.

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