Amos Miller may be getting closer to reaching a compromise with the federal government over the processing and selling of meats through his farming operation, but the story of Miller’s Organic Farm has taken on its own life, appearing prominently on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight and other media outlets.
Miller said last week representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to his Upper Leacock farm, engaging in conversations about how to proceed with a plan to be able to sell beef, pork and chicken through the farm cooperative and the handling of more than $300,000 in outstanding fines levied against the business by the government.
The visit comes several months after members of the U.S. Marshalls showed up at Miller’s farm in six vehicles and brandishing weapons with the USDA inspectors in tow.
Miller said the conversations with the federal officials last week were productive and presented a clear pathway for him to come into compliance with regulations. He said if the compromise can be finalized, Miller’s Organic Farm could again be able to sell beef and pork to its more than 4,000 club members around the country by the fall.
However, Miller is hesitant to reach a compromise that includes the requirement to butcher animals at USDA-approved facilities, rather than on his farm. Other facilities may use preservatives, including citric acid, that Miller and his club members do not want.
“We’re trying to reach a solution so that everybody can win at the end of the day,” Miller said.
The threats of possibly going to jail over the large fines have continued to create stress for the Amish farmer who is currently in the height of the summer harvest season by gathering the inventories of homemade cheeses, butter, pickled vegetables and other farm products.
Further Case Updates
Miller’s case has been making its way through the court system since 2016 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), represented by the U.S. Department of Justice, filed a civil action requiring Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm to comply with federal meat and poultry food safety statutes.
The USDA continues to require Miller to operate under the “Federal Grant of Inspection” before slaughtering, preparing, processing or selling for distribution certain meat and poultry products.
Miller had slaughtered animals like cattle, chickens and pigs without federal inspections of his operation for several years, arguing his business model of selling private club memberships to his Miller’s Organic Farm exempted him from federal regulations.
The DOJ won permanent injunctions against Miller in civil actions closed out in March 2017 and November 2019, while the FSIS later found Miller again out of compliance. He was eventually forced to stop selling most meat and poultry products earlier this year.
Late in 2021, Miller asked to remove his lawyer, Dallas-based attorney Steven Lafuente, from the case. Judge Edward G. Smith did not accept the motion to withdraw Lafuente.
Miller filed an “interlocutory appeal” with the Eastern District Court on May 10, which was assigned to the Third Circuit Court. In the appeal, Miller challenges Judge Smith’s decision to retain Lafuente as his lawyer.
The appeal charges that Judge Smith determined “that Amos Miller does not have the right to choose his own attorney” and that the decision was made in “error” and that the “judge was acting irrationally and beyond the confines of public policy.”
Miller and his wife, Rebecca, are set to appear before Judge Smith on Sept. 26 in the U.S. Courthouse in Easton for a show cause hearing to consider adding Rebecca as a defendant in the case, to examine compliance of paying $305,065 in fines and the possible incarceration of Amos “for his continuing civil contempt, until defendants make such payments.”
In a motion for a stay of proceedings filed Aug. 5, Miller alleged that the DOJ and Judge Smith violated his rights by threatening in the show cause order to “incarcerate not only Amos Miller but his spouse (an un-named party) to this action.”
The DOJ filed its response in opposition to the stay of proceedings on Aug. 12, saying, “the Court should deny the motion as a frivolous attempt to evade the Court’s enforcement of its civil contempt sanctions orders in this action.”
Miller responded with a notice of lack of due process filing, arguing that documents that were to be sent to him were instead forwarded to his former lawyer Lafuente and that he had not received them.
Miller said he wants to see his court case resolved successfully but is concerned about the precedent and repercussions it could have on other cases involving other farms.
“It appears that the court might get its way,” Miller said. “And if so, the court case could be used against hundreds of other farmers. I’d much rather have something good come out of it.”
The longstanding story of Miller’s troubles with the federal government has recently struck a chord in media circles.
Rebel News, a Canadian-based conservative media outlet that came to prominence with its coverage of the trucker protests in Ottawa and other parts of Canada earlier this year, featured a viral video of Miller and his farm. The video created by investigative reporter Jeremy Loffredo has been viewed more than 2 million times on various social media platforms, and a petition created by Rebel News in support of Miller has more than 22,000 signatures.
Miller’s story got its most prominent feature Aug. 22 when Tucker Carlson interviewed Loffredo during his prime-time Fox News show that routinely receives more than 3 million viewers per night.
In the segment, Carlson strongly denounced the actions of the federal government towards Miller, calling it a “shocking story” and “hard to believe.”
“So [the federal government] went after gyms, organic farmers and churches, so maybe they’re against anything that’s wholesome and edifying that makes you stronger and healthier and in favor of everything that diminishes you and makes you more dependent,” Carlson said during the segment.
After the segment aired, several fundraising sites dedicated to Miller’s cause jumped by thousands of dollars with donators leaving supportive messages in the comment sections. Donations came from people as far away as Idaho, Colorado and Florida.
Staff writer Michael Yoder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @YoderReports on Twitter.