Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm still plan to go up against the government in settlements talks, but only after a Sept. 17 discovery deadline.
Miller, who government attorneys say largely operates as if federal oversight does not exist, has locked in Dallas attorney Steven Lafuente. He joins Joseph A. Macaluso on the defense team.
After discovery ends, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania has set the deadline of Oct. 22 for the parties to file an opposition to dispositive motions. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.
In a new federal civil case that got underway in April, Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm apparently decided to contest the civil charges brought against them.
And It seems rather than settle, Miller has decided to fight with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The Orrstown, PA-based Macaluso and the Dallas-based McKey Law Office are once again defending Miller and his farm. The legal team is back together because Miller’s associated food club members have put up a GoFundMe campaign to pay the lawyers.
“Our Farmer, Amos Miller, needs your help to preserve traditional farming the way God intended,” the GoFundMe pitch says. According to the food club members, Miller’s Organic Farm has produced pure foods for more than 100 years. They say Miller needs civil rights lawyers to “argue the farm’s case in court against the army of lawyers that the USDA is bringing to the courtroom.”
A 97-page civil complaint against Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm in Bird-in-Hand, PA, is pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Miller is accused of selling meat and poultry products, which were not USDA inspected, to consumers throughout the United States.
Miller’s only official response is a hand-written note to the court, denying the allegations and requesting dismissal.
More lengthy statements are coming from his food club customers, which were first reported by blogger David Gumpert on The Compete Patient:
“As a free individual and a citizen of the United States of America, I have made the decision to purchase Amos Miller’s raw dairy and grass-fed, self processed meat products. I have purchased food from him for years, and feed my wife and children this food not only without reservation but with pride, one club member wrote. I take comfort in knowing exactly where my food is coming from, who is caring for it, and how it is cared for. It would be a disservice to his customers and quite frankly the country to force his animals and his product out of his control and oversight.”
Gumpert also reported Miller’s perspective on settlement talks that failed in June. Miller says the court wanted to find out if a settlement was “not a real possibility.”
“I had to think about this. I made a few phone calls to see if there could be a chance, Miller said. “I had a conversation with USDA/FSIS Director Troy Hambright and the opinion I got from him is that we have to follow all their rules, otherwise we will be in violation. No exceptions.”
Miller said he and Hambright discussed a citric acid solution used in USDA inspected facilities. His “team members” looked at USDA requirements, rules, and regulations, Miller added. They are “not comfortable” with what the USDA/FSIS calls safe or that he could call safe “due to our very chemical sensitive members.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Pennslyvania represents USDA in the civil action. The government’s goal is to get Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm to cease violating federal food safety laws.
“Flagrant failure to meet the regulations will not be tolerated,” says U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain.
FSIS is the USDA agency responsible for inspection of all commercially sold meat, poultry and table eggs sold in the United States. Regulations require FSIS-inspected products to be wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged for human consumption.
Earlier this year, 370 of Miller’s friends raised $24,138 toward a $15,000 goal to purchase new milk bottling equipment for the farm.
In 2015, Miller’s farm was named as the likely source of an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes involving raw, unpasteurized milk.
In late 2016, FSIS sued Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm to force their compliance with agency subpoenas to conduct inspections.
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