Miller’s Organic Farm Case: Part 1

Why write about a boring misfortune when at all appearances nothing can be done?

In the Amish village of Bird-in-Hand in remote Pennsylvania, Miller’s Organic Farm has been in business for a century. Today, it provides organic food — grass-fed beef, raw milk and eggs, dairy from grass-fed water buffalo, and all kinds of produce — to a private food club of 4,000 members who pay top dollar for high-quality whole foods.

Members require food from a farmer who does not process his meat and dairy products at US Department of Agriculture facilities. Aaron Miller, the owner, chooses to protect his food preparation according to God’s will. He himself ran the farm for almost a century and a half without electricity, fertilizer and gasoline. Observers are impressed by the oldest and 100 percent organic method of crop yield.

The farm’s website states: “…we are proud to be completely chemical, cruelty and GMO-free. The animals are born and raised without antibiotics or hormones, and they spend their entire lives on natural and stress-free pastures. All of the farm’s food is sourced, grown in pure and nutrient-dense soil, under traditional time-honored methods.”

Sounds to me like the collective dream of a dozen environmental organizations: opposing animal cruelty, GMOs, and the use of chemical fertilizers—not to mention eliminating fossil fuels (no gas, electricity).

Last summer, armed federal agents sent by the USDA demanded Miller shut down operations and prepared to hit him with more than $300,000 in fines. That would shut down Amos Miller.

They demanded that he stop selling meat until he came under the federal agencies that regulate it. Miller responded that such regulations “damage the nutrition of the food…You wash these things, you’re given these vaccines, and the cows get all kinds of drugs, I don’t do any of that…Your regulatory process is really going to be about the quality of my food. Damages and I’m being paid top dollar for it…”

Federal agents camped out on the farm to take inventory of his meat, dairy and other foods to make sure he wasn’t selling anything and increasing his production.

Miller took the case to the US District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, which ruled in favor of the USDA. The USDA specifies the following text required to be posted on the farm’s website:

“To Miller’s Organic Farm Members:

Please advise…Miller’s Organic Farm violated the court’s restraining order and consent order. Accordingly, we will not offer for sale or purchase fresh or freshly slaughtered eligible meat, meat food products, poultry, and poultry products unless and until Miller’s Organic Farms maintains its existing… frozen meat and poultry inventory and this Other requirements of the Order are not complied with. Other orders of the court…

“…we are working diligently with the government to find some long-term solutions…”

But what is the “long-term” (or even short-term) solution? Miller’s farm is in violation of “bedrock” USDA regulations The court order listing the violations is an outline of USDA’s Food and Inspection Service procedures. Farmer Miller’s own judgment about how to produce the highest quality food is a flat-out rejection of regulation. A court decision suggests the government’s position on Miller’s approach.

On July 21, 2021, federal judge Edward G. Smith signed a 39-page order imposing sanctions on Miller and the ranch, including a $250,000 fine and other penalties “to enforce defendants’ future compliance, making them aware of the seriousness of the violations and the consequences of future violations…”

The firm was ordered to pay the fine within 30 days or face further penalties “including Amos Miller’s imprisonment.”

The farm was ordered not to slaughter any animals in violation of the order or face a fine of $25,000 per day. Miller has been ordered to cease and desist from all meat and poultry retail operations except for inventory disposal.

In summer, 2022, Amos Miller, continuing his six-year legal battle with the USDA (represented by the US Department of Justice), filed papers in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania. Miller appealed some decisions to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, including an appeal of a change of attorney (which was denied).

Walter Dunaway is a writer and author with more than a dozen books available on Amazon and an editor for the e-zine Savvy Street. He was the program officer or director of two leading New York City foundations in the health care field: the Commonwealth Fund and the Dana Foundation. He has published nearly two dozen articles in Blockchain Healthcare Reviews.

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