The Lancaster judge overseeing the Amos Miller civil trial case has decided not to explicitly restrict the Amish farmer’s out-of-state sales, saying he won’t hold the ambiguous nature of Pennsylvania law against Miller.

The result is Miller might be free to sell his raw milk produced in Pennsylvania out of state.

The ruling by County Judge Thomas Sponaugle in Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) V. Amos and Rebecca Miller came after a round of defense arguments by the attorneys for the Millers, Bradford L. Geyer and Robert E. Barnes.

The judge sought to clarify his March 19 order, which barred Miller’s sales in Pennsylvania but not beyond its borders.

PDA had asked the court to draw a circle around Miller’s raw milk and stop it from crossing over to out-of-state distribution.

It is not something the state will likely agree with, but it does show how far apart the Millers and their state are from one another. The judge said the “court should not hold the above the ambiguity against the defendants.”

It isn’t known how many out-of-state customers are Miller patrons.  Some estimate his customer base to be as high as 4,000 to 5,000. How helpful the new order will be to Miller also isn’t known as he signed a federal Consent Decree last year, promising to adhere to various federal food safety statutes.

It remains illegal to sell raw milk across state lines, according to federal law.

Miller ended up on PDA’s radar screen on Jan. 23, when eggnog purchased at the farm was linked to food-borne illness in New York and Michigan. Then, the PAR found Miller was doing business without state licenses and permits.

Pennsylvania is a raw milk state with about 115 licensed facilities, masking the state’s issue with Miller, which is obtaining routine paperwork to do business.

Attorneys for the Miller’s had said: “The law is clear: it only applies to sales to Pennsylvania customers within the state. By contrast, the language the PDA wants to add—’from the Commonwealth’ and ‘regardless of where customers reside’ — does not exist in the statute. Nor could it exist Constitutionally.”

“The food laws govern access to Pennsylvania customers because that is what the legislature chose to do and what the Constitution allows them to do; the laws do not regulate producers, processors, or possessors of food intended for export to out-of-state markets,” it argues. “Consider the absurd havoc created by the PDA’s amendment of the law they ask this court to do — anyone traveling through Pennsylvania with food intended for sale outside the state is now subject to PDA jurisdiction and restrictions, such that someone traveling from West Virginia through Pennsylvania to another state with food intended for sale outside Pennsylvania can be stopped, searched, seized, fined, enjoined, penalized, and imprisoned. Food producing, processing, and transporting facilities for export outside Pennsylvania—of which thousands of people employed in Pennsylvania— would now be banned overnight and wake up criminals. This is not what the legislature authorized nor what the Constitution allows. Contrary to PDA’s claims, food intended for export is already regulated by Congress, as the Defendants’ half-decade of litigation reflects.”

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