Letter from the editor: the real Amos Miller faces justice over food safety



The USDA’s Food Safety and Food Inspection Department sometimes profiles its employees on the job to help the public understand the agency’s complex mission. Two FSIS employees who deserve profiles are Paul Flanagan and Scott C. Safian.

They are both officers of the FSIS Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA). They do what may be the most disruptive food safety jobs in the United States – bringing Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm into compliance with food safety laws and US food safety regulations.

The real Amos Miller has finally been revealed thanks to the work of Flanagan and Safian.

In late June, Miller was found in contempt of court for violating an April 2020 consent decree and the court’s November 2019 injunction.

And Judge Edward G. Smith will not allow Miller to ignore this Court’s order. Miller has 30 days to pay a fine of $ 250,000 for contempt and reimburse FSIS $ 14,436.26 for Flanagan and Safian’s recent investigative work. If he ignores this court order, as he has so often done in the past, a stay at the Greybar Hotel, aka prison, will likely be Miller’s short-term future.

When it all started before 2016, Miller, according to some food freedom activists, was just an Amish farmer protecting the butchery methods of religion. It was an insult to Amish farmers who comply with USDA regulations.

Lawsuits over the past six or more years have shown Amos Miller and his finances to be no easy feat.

Miller’s Organic Farm is Miller’s “alter ego” and files tax returns under Miller’s name, according to the lengthy factual record that has been put together by FSIS investigators.

Miller’s “Private Members’ Association” is a buyer’s club whose members do not share in the profits of the farm or have the right to vote in decisions concerning the affairs of the farm and who:

  • has a decision-making “board” composed entirely of Miller and his wife;
  • conditions membership only on the signing of a membership contract by an individual and the payment of a small single sum; and
  • does not screen members for their opinions or beliefs.

At least until the injunction order, Miller’s sold its meat and poultry products only to members of Miller’s private association, including food co-operatives that participated or were otherwise members of Miller’s private association. .

Miller fulfilled orders by phone, email, fax, and the Internet by carrying himself or arranging delivery services to transport the purchased products.

Instead, the farm Miller runs from Bird-in-Hand, Pa. Is proving to be “large and interstate” with interstate sales of meat, poultry and other food products.

“In addition to his original Bird-in-Hand, PA farm, Mr. Miller owns an adjacent farm which he purchased for $ 1.45 million in September 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Miller testified that he funded $ 1.4 million of the purchase price. He would therefore have deposited $ 500,000 at the time of the purchase last year, ”according to court documents.

Miller’s 50 percent condominium of Burke’s Garden Farms in Tazewell, Virginia is also disclosed. He bought the Virginia Farm property in 2015 for $ 2.5 million.

Miller has a $ 200,000 line of credit and is currently making “significant capital improvements” at the Bird-In-Hand farm, including a large building to accommodate his daughters’ upcoming weddings. Miller testified that the building for the weddings will cost $ 100,000 to $ 200,000.

The injunction of the Department of Justice (DOJ) found:

  • Amos Miller and his wife owned and operated Miller’s, an unincorporated business located at 648 Mill Creek School Road, Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania;
  • at its agricultural site, Miller’s slaughtered livestock or poultry, then prepared, processed, stored and / or distributed meat, meat-based food products and poultry products;
  • Miller’s meat, meat-based food products and poultry products sold for commercial and human consumption to consumers in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States;
  • a federal inspection is required in such an establishment which slaughters livestock or poultry and then prepares or processes meat, meat or poultry food products that can be used as human food for interstate or foreign trade, to unless the establishment qualifies for an exemption from federal regulation. inspection;
  • Miller’s operated its meat and poultry business without a federal USDA-FSIS inspection grant and (with rare exceptions) without bringing its livestock and poultry for slaughter and processing to a federally inspected facility; and (f) the defendants had not yet changed Miller’s business model to attempt to qualify for an exemption from federal inspection under the laws for any part of their operations

Much of food safety relies on voluntary compliance. Once regulators are sure how to comply is understood, the agreement to do so often involves little more than a handshake.If everyone played the system that Amos Miller made, the whole system would stop.

You can’t put enough food safety cops to watch everyone, especially if bad guys are everywhere. We can be happy that this is not the case, but we can also be grateful to talented investigators like Paul Flanagan and Scott C. Safian. are at work.

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