Lancaster Amish Organic Farmer Must Pay $250,000, Faces Possible Jail Time For Food Violations
A Lancaster County Amish farmer faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and potential jail time for repeated violations of food safety laws. Miller’s Organic Farm, owned by an Amos Miller in Bird-in-Hand, has been described as “tangling with federal authorities for several years over its food handling practices” in this report by Fox43:
U.S. District Judge Edward G. Smith, Jr. found Amos Miller in contempt of court for violating a 2020 consent decree and ordered him to pay $250,000 in fines, plus an additional $14,436 to cover enforcement costs.
The original violation in this case occurred in 2015, and according to what the government alleges, had serious – that is, deadly – consequences:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found listeria in the farm’s raw milk in 2015 after raw milk sickened two people, killing one. Through genetic testing, the FDA identified the strain of listeria as genetically similar to the strain that sickened the people, leading the FDA to conclude that Miller’s milk was the “likely source” of the bacteria.
The illnesses actually happened in 2014, with a person in Florida dying. Miller has objected to this conclusion:
Miller told FOX43 his milk was not proven to have caused the illnesses, and that the person who died had pre-existing conditions.
“Her family is very upset that FDA and USDA is using her case to make us look bad,” Miller said.
More on the complaints against Miller:
Prosecutors have accused Miller of showing a “singular, historic willingness to flout democratically enacted federal food safety laws of general applicability.”
The Department of Justice has filed several lawsuits against Miller and the farm, including a 2019 suit that ultimately won an injunction to cease violating food safety laws.
In 2020 Miller signed a consent decree acknowledging he violated the injunction.
Miller was found in contempt of court on June 16, with a 39-page-ruling published on June 22 that detailed Miller’s interactions with FSIS agents.
Falling under the umbrella of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is tasked with ensuring meat and poultry sold commercially is safe, wholesome and correctly labeled and packaged.
FSIS agents accused Miller of intentionally ignoring federal regulations on slaughtering livestock, and processing and labeling meat. The order states,
“To date, Mr. Miller’s actions call into question his motivation to continue to pursue with FSIS a plan for custom-exempt operations…”
Food Safety News gives further background and a rundown of the events surrounding the violation (they’re against Amos Miller in this case).
On the other hand, Miller has his defenders, including in his sizable “buyer’s club”. A buyer’s club is a way to get around some restrictions on selling raw farm products in some places, allowing product providers to avoid licensing and inspection.
Miller’s Organic Farm buyer club has more than 2,000 members. Some are calling for the sanctions to be reversed.
“I think if we stand together, the government does feel that pressure,” Miller said.
A GoFundMe page has raised nearly $14,000 to help pay the fine. That may not be enough, though.
Also on the pro-Amos Miller side, another defender argues that Miller’s products are in high demand and profitable for him, and that the government doesn’t like that.
Miller seems to be presenting the issue as one of keeping his people on the farm rather than out in other occupations, which is a classic argument that resonates with Amish and no doubt with sympathetic observers:
“[I’ll] do do whatever it takes to keep our children on the farm rather than going out into the world looking for jobs, which can not be good in our culture,” said Miller, who is Amish. “If we have to pay it all ourselves, very likely we will not be able to move forward.”
He explains that he is “willing to take a stand to preserve our culture” in this video:
Fair enough, though many other Amish farmers are able to keep on the farm without the troubles Miller has been through. Operating a conventional dairy for example is probably an easier way to keep the children on the farm in light of the trouble that Miller’s practices have brought upon him (not to mention the person who died, assuming it was in fact Miller’s milk that caused it).
However, Miller “believes many federal regulations lead to food being more unhealthy” and I would gather there’s little chance he would switch his operation to a conventional one which adheres with conventional regulations:
Miller’s Organic Farm’s practices are organic, non-GMO, chemical free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free, according to its website.
“[The cows] get sunshine, they get green grass. If the animals eat good then we can eat good as well,” Miller said. “They use it as their medicine.”
In the video above Miller elaborates that his customers “use it as a medicine. It’s very healing to the body because it’s raw,” along with further explanation of how his practice is superior to conventional treatment of livestock.
Is Miller being unfairly targeted as he alleges? He suggests that even the family of his victim feels that he is being mistreated in this case. This case raises the question of how we draw lines when it comes to personal freedom and public safety. It’s also not the first controversial raw milk case involving Amish, though it might be the first where someone is alleged to have died from an Amish raw milk source (and noting that Miller’s case involves not only raw milk, but slaughtering and other meat processing practices).
Miller has until about August 22 to come up with the $250,000+ fine.
Miller's pseudoscience doesn't cut it
In the news story Amos Miller makes pseudoscientific claims. The assertions probably resonate as true with poorly educated customers, but don’t wash with science savvy people, including government health regulators.
Just because “the cows eat good” does not mean their meat or milk is safe for human beings. The fact is that listeria bacteria was found in Miller’s milk. Listeria sends a high percentage of those who drink it to the hospital and kills 20 to 30 percent. Pasteurization prevents this, but Miller doesn’t pasteurize his milk.
He also suggests that the citric acid used to wash commercial chicken meat renders the meat less nutritious or somehow unhealthful. Citric acid is abundant in citrus fruit. Does Miller avoid oranges or lemonade?
I am not Amish, but I stand with the Amish. Their way of life is much healthier than our “FDA approved”, pharmaceutical daily poisonings.
The Amish are survivors, and we are drug dependent on pharmaceuticals whose main purpose is to create more profit making, permanent customers.
I respect you, Mr. Miller and wish I had your courage.
Here, read this https://genohub.com/shotgun-metagenomics-sequencing/
and now tell me just how sure any lab can be that the listeria Miller’s milk had was known, with 100% certainty, to be the exact same strain that was found in the milk in Florida (or even in the deceased). Even if it was, the main question to ask is how was the milk stored while in transit? Even the most pasteurized milk will start to go bad after a couple days if kept at higher than 45 deg F. A small colony that anybody’s digestive system could handle could grow to toxic levels if improperly stored.
My mother grew up on raw milk. In Kansas. In the 30’s. With NO refigeration for their milk. She’s almost 90 and her doctors say she’s in the best health of any of their patients her age.
– a retired microbiologist.
We the people created government, not to rule over us under the guise of health and safety. They can only regulate public commerce, not private activity. They don’t have jurisdiction, it is sad they Miller didn’t question jurisdiction from the beginning, but it’s not too late
More Persecution of the Amish
Mr. Miller is correct in a lot of what he is saying. To assume that a strain of listeria found on his farm killed someone in Florida is preposterous. He should hire scientists to prove that this strain is all over the US, and the deceased could have gotten it in any number of places. Even the deceased person’s family in Florida said he hasn’t done anything wrong. In addition, the raw food movement has been going on for a long time and there are those who attest to having been cured of diseases, including cancer, when switching to a raw food diet.
Seems to me that since the Amish supported Trump in the last election, the govt. threats against the Amish have skyrocketed. The fact that they practice their Christian faith in everything they do, makes them a target in this anti-Christian atmosphere supported by the govt.
His farm is beautiful and clean, and he’s doing what he can to make people healthy. Conventional farming is making people sick. Maybe that’s the main reason they want to put him out of business – because he’s trying to keep people healthy.
I thought the article was somewhat slanted against Mr. Miller. Did not enjoy reading it because of that.
FDA & FSIS & USDA ETC
Why are they going after the Amish instead of protecting Americans from the dozens of violations involving Chinese imports? I complained about the Chinese putting dessicants in their fish exports to USA, sold at WALMART. Fish weigh more; cost more. Caused a stir: Walmart had an eat-in to show fish was safe! Where was the FSIS and USDA and FDA, etc? On the side of the contaminated fish. A dessicant absorbs moisture. Would you willingly, knowingly eat it? The ingredient is no longer listed as such on the fish. Other violations showing these agencies should be concentrating on Chinese imports rather than Amish Farmers who are successful in giving us good food to eat that is not contaminated with dozens of chemicals. Cookware: 1934-38 first case against aluminum cookware. At the time, Americans had less than 1 micro-microgram of aluminum in the body; Americans were whizzes at reasoning and logic. Today, Americans have 356 milligrams of Aluminum in the body, mostly brain area. The aforementioned amount is the body’s annual tolerance for aluminum hydroxide compounds. China now exports to America all types of bare aluminum cookware, and aluminum based cookware. In the ’50s we use to wear copper bracelets. Once it was learned that the skin was absorbing it and causing schizophrenia, such bracelets were outlawed. Walmart sells a host of copper clad cookware from China. We now have drill bits coated with a metal that makes possible drilling through most anything. One problem: if the drill bit overheats, it is removed from the drill bit. Walmart now sells Chinese cookware coated with it. Does it go into the food? China has devised even more cookware that is questionable, but these same agencies whose duty it is to protect us from this unsafe cookware; and unsafe dessicants in food products; are going after the Amish farmers; and other Americans. Why don’t they first protect us from all these Walmart imports from China that have never been tested for safety as cookware! I am 78. Seen a lot of smoke screens covering up incompetence of federal agencies: by far, the one’s leading that distinction is the ones giving the Amish farmers problems. If this old man had the money he would donate it. So, this old man requests anyone reading this response donate to this Amish Farmer and expose these good for nothing agencies.
Listeria kills about 260 Americans each year. And some of those cases involve pasteurized products. Not raw.
Speeding car drivers kill about 9,700 Americans per year. Yet, the government still allows cars to be built that can travel over 100 mph.
Alcohol kills over 95,000 people each year in America. But government regulation on alcohol is, well, if you’re 21, drink up.
It’s interesting how the government picks and chooses what it deems unhealthy or dangerous.
If it’s really about safety, then the government should be spending more time and effort dealing with alcohol and cars built to travel so fast. But they don’t.
Listeriosis sickens about 1600 Americans every year according to the CDC.
J.O.B. misleads us with this assertion about deaths from the disease:
“And some of those cases involve pasteurized products. Not raw.”
Some of those cases definitely do involve raw milk. Here’s what CDC says:
“Probably no more than 1% of the milk consumed in the United States is raw, yet more outbreaks were linked to raw milk than by pasteurized milk.
If you consider the number of outbreaks associated with raw milk in light of the very small amount of milk that is consumed raw, the risk of outbreaks linked to raw milk is at least 150 times greater than the risk of outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.”
Boyce, please don’t lie. I used facts.
Alcohol is far more deadly than raw milk. It’s not even close. Please don’t lie and deny this fact.
Listeria kills about 260 people per year in America.
Alcohol kills over 95,000 people per year in America.
It’s not even close.
Listeria can be found on melons, hot dogs, sprouts, fish, and even cheese from pasteurized milk.
In fact, there is a listeria outbreak connected to fully cooked chicken. Here is the link.
If you have a problem with facts, then complain to the CDC. I’m to busy drinking raw milk.
Of course alcohol kills way more people than does listeriosis. And so do bad drivers. Where did I say otherwise? What lie do you claim I told?
Boyce, everyone knows the government lies. Using them as a source to prove your point does not help your credibility.
How can the government insist it came from Mr Miller’s product. What did the person eat before consuming Mr Miller’s product. This is exploitation! Invading on Mr Millers livelihood is unjust! May God protect and have favor upon Mr Miller and his community. God bless you, keep you in the palm of His hand.
I have always wondered at the need for gov. to regulate such a thing as raw milk. If the consumer has any concern about the safety of drinking it after knowingly and specifically purchasing it, why don’t they (the consumer) just bring it up to pasteurizing temp. prior to drinking it? Why does this fall on the shoulders of the seller?
I don’t know either party, but for years, I’ve asked this question locally as well.
Lady Locust, if you think about how lobbyist financially back politicians then you’ll see why so many products are regulated. Without regulation from government officials then the lobbyists would lose money when farmers and priducers like Mr. Miller sell popular goods. The American government has become an expert at killing the American dream and self sufficiency.
He not a Private Food Club
As a farmer who actually runs a REAL CSA/Private food club I am more then qualified knowing regulations & the business to speak about this. Mr. MILLER is neither Private nor has a so called religious right to not be subject to the same regulations as ALL of us are. A private club does not ship food a across the county. One you enter into interstate sales you are free game and yes in accordance to the construction. A private food club don’t ship and certainly is not afraid to get state licenses for meat processing. USDA only comes into play when the product is transported off that property by either miller’s own hands or transportation businesses. (No usda don’t smoke meat in chemicals either). But even if that was a concern there are plenty of state certified meat plants and he could have go certified himself for that matter. State licenses don’t require any of what Miller claims. Two his religious right?! Bullsh!%$* his religious right stopped when he stared selling to people outside his community. By the way the Gov is not stopping him from growing raising healthy food or feeding it to his own family. They are stopping him from sales outside his state. There are thousands of Private food clubs that are Organic that use USDA. You think people who are certified Organic risk losing that label if USDA contaminated their product at the end? No people don’t be so ingredient. While myself fight daily on my YouTube Channel for food freedom and food right that is not what Miller is doing. He was special treatment. He wasn’t more and thinks because he Amish he can’t be held to the same standards as I or anyone else who runs private clubs is held to. If Miller want to continue to sloughter and butcher he needs to get a State License. Why because yes even the state has a right to make sure he is clean and not spreading food born illness. I personally have seen many Amish unlicensed plants. I have no problem with a small chicken plant where people bring their children to be processed them chickend go back home in a couple hours. No sales other than the payment for labor. But no the vast majority of Amish plant are DISCUSSTING and filthy and I been to many. See you all have romanticized the Amish to thank they are above the law and so honest in all they do. There are just as many corrupt Amish as anyone. Again I will say he is not a private club he not remotely.
You are either lying or highly misinformed
You say “regulations we are ALL subject to”. That’s not true.. we the people created government to protect our rights, not take them away. The government we created never was granted that power over us. If I start a religion today and say we don’t want to eat any food inspected by government, then who has the power or authority to question that? ANSWER; NO ONE!
Yes you are.
Yes once you enter into to Interstate Commerce you ARE subject to registration. You gave the Gov that authority when you voted in the people who appointed these registration Tyrants. Interstate commerce is a Fed issue. You don’t want to be under the thumb of Gov well then have a Real private Club but Miller’s isn’t that.
I Live in one of the most heavily regulated States of Wisconsin. Big egg is the name of the game here and they lobby at the highest levels to control every aspect of our agriculture. We small producers still manage to function in our private clubs. Why because we’re not entering in to the federal domain we stay under the banner of state. Even hershberger knew better not to sell his products over state lines and that’s why he won his case and one the ability for all of us to have private herd shares here in Wisconsin if done right. Miller is not above being held to the same standards of everybody else just because hes Amish. He needs to stop selling this product over state lines and and so local private food shares. It’s very clear to me that you don’t have a basic understanding of agriculture or how these types of things work will I do I’ve been working in it for over 15 years. And as I said I’ve personally fought publicly to deregulate and open up my state to private food clubs. I have openly taught in schools churches and other venues how to do the same. There are other people like Joe salagen teaching people how to do this as well and none of them would ever agree that what this man Miller is doing is within the bounds of right.
Give me a Break
Considering all of the pesticides, herbicides, additives, preservatives, sugars and dyes the government ALLOWS in our food, the savvy do NOT trust the government to have our best interests at heart. This is yet another disgusting government overreach. If his customers are satisfied, the government should stay OUT of their business. For Boyce to ignorantly state we should follow “science savvy people, including government health regulators,” apparently means he supports forced vax for jobs too and that we should have all followed Fauci to our demise and the grave..
No point in arguing this further
I see no point in arguing this further. You and almost every other person on this thread has expressed emotions and opinions as if they were facts, thus branding themselves as unwilling to consider reliable sources of actual facts.
Anyone who wishes to discuss these matters with me on an intellectual (and not an emotional) level, may write to me at email@example.com.
This isn’t abt science
So what’s the point of having a community if you dont defend your way of life?
Think these judges do that to jews and their Kosher degenerate laws?
This is to push your people and see what you let them get away with, like they did with the”right” past decade.
Besides the fact they’re waging war of the goyim, Christian fundamentalists, you have food and their plan is to seize it, like their bolshevik forefathers did.
All these judges have addresses.
They wouldn’t dare do this to
Kosher and halal people.
America...Once the Beacon of Freedom
You speak the truth. I never dreamed I would say our government disgusts me but the overreach of power and enslaving people to become sickly, poor and stupid is beyond belief. If people don’t wake up and speak out for our rights, then we’ll be looking a lot like Venezuela, Cuba…and Argentina with 70% inflation. Remember this on voting day.
Better yet, remember it now and fight hard to help (work the polls, donate, etc.) an America First candidate win. It’s our last chance because this is a spiritual fight for our sovereignty — personal, statewide, and globally.
Unsafe Raw Mlk
We have food safety laws for very good reasons.
“Buyers clubs” are created to circumvent the law.
If you and your family want to drink unpasteurized milk, go right ahead.
But most developed nations require milk to be pasteurized because it saves lives and sickness.
Just because your Amish does not give you a waiver to the nations food safety laws.
“Miller’s Organic Farm’s practices are organic, non-GMO, chemical free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free”
Unfortunately for the victims, his milk was not listeria free.
In 1921, the federal government was still advising people to pasteurize their milk at home. The US Department of agriculture actually released a pamphlet that suggested people eat cheese as a safer alternative! It took a lot of time and struggle to adopt pasteurization in the US, but the process did have an impact. In 1938, disease outbreak caused by milk were about one-quarter of all outbreaks caused by food and water. That number is mind boggling to the modern reader and goes to show why pasteurization and safe milk was such a huge concern.
I'm with the farmer
I stand by this farmer and his operations. I would trust an Amish farmer ANY day over the governmental regulatory FDA and big pharma. I hope he wins. I want him to know he’s got MANY people standing with him. My husband and I have visited and brought from his store and it is a beautiful, clean farm with high quality meat, produce and products. God bless him.