— OPINION —
Late last year, I felt like the Amos Miller saga must be finally over.
Maybe it was my sparring partner David Gumpert, the author of books like “The
Raw Milk Revolution” putting his blog mostly on ice, or maybe it was the untimely death last Nov. 27 of federal Judge Edward G. Smith of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who presided over United States v. Amos Miller cases for seven years.
Indeed, the signing of the “Third Consent Decree” by Miller’s new attorney finally ended the federal court litigation after all these years. It would have ended sooner had Miller not gone through his “sovereign citizen” phase, which even the ever-patient Judge Smith would not put up with.
The Consent Decrees Miller accepted are long and complicated, but essentially mean laws and regulations enforced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service must be obeyed.
In the main, Miller is “precluded from conducting livestock/poultry slaughter and processing intended for sale, resale, offer for sale, transportation, donation, or distribution” to any of his customers or anywhere else.
While it ended the federal litigation, all the accepted Consent Decree language remains legally enforced under federal law.
However, as the new year dawned, Amos Miller was back in the news after the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture executed a search warrant on the Miller farm on Jan. 4.
With Pennsylvania State Troopers providing security, serving the search warrant at the Miller farm left some blow-back to answer. The state ag officials went through Miller’s coolers, taking some foods away and detaining others that could not be moved or sold.
It was left to Russell C. Redding, the long-serving Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, to express the department’s frustration with Miller. He told Rep. David Zimmerman in a Pennsylvania Farm Show interview that the department has “really worked hard to bring Mr. Miller along.”
But he said when other state health departments are making contact about foodborne illnesses, “it’s not a good look for Pennsylvania.” Miller is not permitted to sell raw milk, nor is his retail operation registered with Pennsylvania.
Miller apparently does know how to sign up for online fundraising campaigns. Lancaster Online News reports that Miller raised “well over” $500,000 in six campaigns during the federal litigation when fines and costs totaled about $85,000. Since being subject to the search warrant on Jan.4, he has raised another $126,638 toward a $150,000 goal.
The co-defendant in the federal case was “Miller’s Organic Farm,” the name Miller uses on websites, Facebook, and at other locations. USDA’s National Organic Program participants say the Miller farm is not certified organic. Maybe NOP wants to take him to court?
One of Miller’s customers contacted Food Safety News to argue that since he and his family eat the food sold by the farm and they’ve not become ill over several months, the products must be safe to eat.
It’s been one week since Pennsylvania ag officials visited Miller’s farm, and it’s been longer than that since health departments in New York and Michigan found people with E. Coli illnesses that show signs they may be linked to the farm. All three states should, with all due speed, report their findings. There should not be any wait for a final report or any other such nonsense
Amos Miller is a farmer in multiple states who owns a “buyer’s club” with the reach to distribute food across state lines. The public has a right to know if he is responsible for the current outbreak. If he isn’t, Pennsylvania must issue fines and get him licensed for whatever business he does.
For the record, Miller first came to the attention of the food safety system in 2016 when his raw milk was genetically linked to two cases of listeriosis. One ended in death
A little caution around Amos Miller goes a long way.
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