Amos Miller, an Amish farmer who runs a holistically managed small farm in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania, grows and prepares food in tune with nature, the way he believes God intended. This seems like a sound idea to the approximately 4,000 customers who purchase Miller’s meat, eggs and dairy products from his private, members-only food club.
The federal government, however, appears to disagree. A federal judge recently ordered Miller to cease and desist all meat sales, Our Organic Wellness reported. U.S. marshals were deployed to search Miller’s property. They inventoried his stock to assure he doesn’t sell or slaughter more animals. In other words, the feds shut Amos Miller down.
Miller claims he is being persecuted by the federal government for practicing his religious freedom to grow and prepare food according to his religious beliefs.
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.” So wrote American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson in his influential 1841 essay Self-Reliance. Once upon a time, Americans respected the notion of self-reliance. It was at the heart of the American mythos. Not anymore.
In March, George Lapsley, a court-appointed expert, was to receive “unimpeded access” to Miller’s farm to inspect the facilities, according to Food Safety News. On March 11, Lapsley reported that Mr. Miller did not fully cooperate and requested assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service.
Federal Judge Edward G. Smith of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania then ordered that the USMS was authorized to use whatever reasonable force was necessary to gain entry into the facilities it is authorized to inspect.
Furthermore, according to Food Safety News, the court’s order permited Lapsley to make unannounced visits to Miller’s farm. Presumably, this meant anytime, day or night. Never mind God, Big Brother is here.
If this isn’t an escalation, I’m not sure what would qualify as such.
Why is the USMS authorized to use force on an Amish farmer? The USDA contends Miller is slaughtering meat and poultry animals at these locations and distributing them to other states without federal inspection.
To be fair, in 2016 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an outbreak of listeria had been traced to unpasteurized raw milk produced by Miller’s Farm, as reported by CBS News. The incident occurred in 2014. The “outbreak” impacted two people, one in California and one in Florida. One of them died.
At the time, Miller told CBS News that he was not aware of any health problems. “I don’t know that it was proved it’s on the farm here,” he said. It’s not clear why it took the CDC two years to conclude that it was.
Whatever the case, that was then. This is now.
In the summer of 2021, Miller was ordered to pay $250,000 for “contempt of court.” He was also told to pay the salaries of the USDA investigators assigned to his case. To avoid going to jail, he was ordered to pay $50,000 upfront as a gesture of “good faith,” as reported by Our Organic Wellness.
The notion of self-reliance can be dangerous. “To believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,” can be a green light to nightmare land. The 20th century was full of monsters like Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, who believed they were doing the right thing. Villains don’t often see themselves as the bad guy. They think of themselves as heroes.
All the monsters mentioned above, however, have one thing in common — they vied to replace God with government.
Amos Miller isn’t so audacious. He’s simply trying to do what he believes God intends — be a steward of the earth by growing and naturally preparing food. There’s nothing far-fetched or crazy about that. One might go so far as to say it’s good old common sense.
Miller practices rotational grazing. His cattle are raised on organic pastures, with the chickens following behind to eat bugs from the droppings. Whey-fed pigs then trample the fertilizer back into the earth.
Again, there’s nothing sinister going on on Miller’s farm. He just wants to be left alone to go about his business. He just wants to be self-reliant.
Why would the feds resort to force and heavy fines to bring Amos Miller into compliance? Why is his private business any of their business? If Millers’ customers were getting sick from his products, he’d know about it, because they’d either sue him, make a big stink or quietly spread the word. His business would suffer.
It’s fair to ask if the feds are attempting to squeeze religious belief out of the marketplace. They’ve managed to all but banish it from our public schools. During the pandemic, they attempted to selectively clamp down on churches. There’s a pattern here.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, along with Henry David Thoreau, was a leader in American transcendentalism. In a nutshell, this means they believed in a power higher than that of the federal government. The Founding Documents of this great nation are steeped in a transcendence centered in the Judeo-Christian tradition, where God’s law trumps those of men.
The feds no longer like that idea. It’s clear as air they are no friend to religion. Just the opposite.
Amos Miller knows this all too well. Godspeed, Amos. Stand tall.
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