Letter From The Editor: Real hurt for Amos Miller

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Opinion

David Gumpert at The Complete Patient blog is a writer and author in the “Food Freedom” space. For comparison, you might read Food Safety News to help you make responsible decisions about what you eat and drink. Guidance about lawful and responsible food is not Gumpert’s purpose.

We’ve long passed around David Gumpert’s columns to stay current on “Food Freedom’s” plan. What they come up with is sometimes crazy, but it’s almost always good for a laugh.

And while we’ve had some “back-and-force in the past, I remember being respectful. Until now

Gumpert depicted our reporting on sanctions Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farms are facing for contempt of court as showing “that uppity Amish boy Amos Miller ‘s whose boss” while asking if a “lynching will finally do the trick.”

For Gumpert to reach into his basket of expletives, we must have hit a nerve.

A little background. Federal food safety enforcement first uses administrative procedures to achieve compliance. When the FDA or USDA strike out, the Department of Justice (DOJ) works the problem, usually with civil actions in federal court.

The way it works is USDA or FDA works with DOJ to file an initial complaint. The complaint alleges the defendant is producing and distributing adulterated food in the United States. Next, DOJ files for a preliminary injunction to end the illegal activity.

When it’s reached this point, we’ve come to expect Amos Miller will agree to a Consent Decree, promising to adhere to federal food safety regulations. When violated, the Consent Decree, sometimes before the ink is dry, becomes a “wash, rinse, and repeat” exercise.

It’s been five years since the federal court got involved with the current case with an order for Amos Miller to comply with a USDA subpoena for access to Miller’s facilities and records. By 2019, the court turned its order into a permanent injunction. Facts not in dispute since 2019 found Miler was slaughtering livestock and poultry for processing, storing, and distribution for human consumption throughout the United States without federal inspection.

But finally, Amos Miller is getting away with it. Not this time. The judge found him in contempt of court and imposed a $250,000 fine due in 30 days or around Aug. 22.

And the judge did not rule out sending Miller to jail if he fails to come up with the cash.

Gumpert claimed the first Food Safety News report “captures the air of climatic anticipation gripping” USDA over the Amos Miller case. He said we were sending a message to “other Amish farmers who also has the gall to sponsor food clubs offering on the farm slaughtered meat to eager members.”

Gumpert said he was “peeved” about the action, and I think that’s true. After years of enforcement attempts, Miller is finally facing some financial hurt.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel in Pennsylvania and the local U.S. District Attorney’s office built the factual foundation for the contempt of court ruling that’s rock solid.

For sure, Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm has been on the docket for a long time. The fantasy in Gumpert’s mind is about “private food rights” and “the right” to purchase directly from farmers.

In the “Food Freedom” world, you have to go down many rabbit holes to find these “rights” that come without responsibilities.

As it turns out, Amos Miller is about only an Amish farmer with compliance problems. Amos and his wife are unusual as they own farms in multiple states. And that much-touted “buyers club” of their fans — the couple own that too lock, stock, and barrel.

Our reporting about these events did “peeve” Mr. Gumpert because the truth is out about Amos Miller.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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