Government Raid of Amish Farm an Attempt to ‘Criminalize Independence’: Independent Farmer

Government Raid of Amish Farm an Attempt to ‘Criminalize Independence’: Independent Farmer

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The oversight role of the government on the farming community has become a hot-button issue for growing segments of rural America.

The raid of a popular Amish farm on suspicion of selling “illegal milk,” among other products, has inspired widespread outrage over what critics call an egregious example of government overreach.

On Jan. 4, the Pennsylvania State Police, along with officials from the Department of Agriculture, served the Miller’s Organic Farm in Lancaster a warrant after claiming the public had been exposed to a dangerous foodborne pathogen.

The warrant served on farm owner Amos Miller, which came in connection to two alleged cases of food-borne illness, “sought, among other things, illegal raw milk and raw milk products, including eggnog.” The warrant added that “Miller has never licensed his retail operation,” according to Lancaster Online.

Attorney Robert Barnes, who represents Mr. Miller, issued a statement claiming the raid was a violation of his client’s constitutional rights.

“The Department of Agriculture of the State of Pennsylvania suddenly came, without notice, raided Amos’ farm, and detained everything Amos had in the farm’s freezer. They did so in a lawless manner, without appropriate authority, in violation of their own rules and regulations,” Mr. Barnes said.

The oversight role of the government on the farming community has become a hot-button issue for growing segments of rural America who view many of the state and federal regulations as not only oppressive but also tilting the scale in favor of large industrial farms at the expense of the smaller, independent farmer.

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North Dakotan farmer Peter Bartlett, whose family owns Bartlett Farms, which sells raw dairy products, told The Epoch Times that it seems the government’s actions aren’t driven by health concerns but rather control over the nation’s food supply.

“Regulators will tell you this is for the safety of the American public. But if that were true, then why don’t they go after every Mexican or Chinese restaurant after people eat their food and get sick,” Mr. Bartlett said.

“The truth is they feel threatened by anyone acting independently from the system and that is why the government has decided to target this particular farm—to make an example of him, to scare people.”

“If they can make an example out of this small Amish farm, then they can send a powerful message of compliance throughout the rest of the independent farming community,” he added.

(Courtesy of Peter Bartlett)
(Courtesy of Peter Bartlett)

Politicians and several high-profile conservatives were also quick to condemn the raid of Mr. Miller’s farm.

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said it is time for authorities to rethink their priorities.

“With all of the problems in society today, this is what the government wants to focus on?” Mr. Massie wrote in a Jan. 4 post on X. “A man growing food for informed customers, without participating in the industrial meat/milk complex? It’s shameful that it’s come to this.”

Donald Trump Jr. added on the social media platform that news of the raid made him feel “sick.”

“Imagine what law enforcement could accomplish if they went after, oh, I don’t know, say members of elite pedophile rings rather than farmers selling to their neighbors???” Mr. Trump wrote in a Jan. 5 post on X. “Can I be the only person sick of this [expletive]?”

For decades, a community of dairy farmers and nutrition advocates have campaigned for the right of individuals to produce, sell, and consume fresh, unprocessed milk. Advocates claim the consumption of raw milk can lead to numerous health benefits, including improving the immune and digestive systems, as well as being a cure for eczema and irritable-bowel syndrome. The pasteurization process not only destroys dangerous pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter but also destroys its healthy nutrients, according to raw milk enthusiasts.

However, government agencies insist the potential downside of drinking raw milk far outweighs any perceived benefits.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other agencies advise against it, claiming that raw milk “can carry harmful germs, such as campylobacter, cryptosporidium, E. coli, listeria, brucella, and salmonella” that “can pose serious health risks to you and your family.” The CDC claims that raw milk-related outbreaks led to 2,645 illnesses and 228 hospitalizations between 1998 and 2018.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also warns against its consumption.

“Decades ago, pasteurization of milk was adopted as a basic public health measure to kill dangerous bacteria,” a statement read. “This measure largely eliminated the risk of getting sick from one of the most important staples of the American diet.”

However, the money flowing from industry to government agencies has created conflicts of interest in how the safety rules are implemented, according to Mr. Bartlett.  Both the USDA and the FDA, who are charged with setting regulatory policy, have received funding from corporate sponsors in the form of “partnerships,” including from several large agro-industrial farming interests.

“The USDA and FDA have been lobbied over the years by the industrial food system while small and independent farmers are not well represented,” Mr. Bartlett said. “What we are now seeing come to fruition through a regulatory process that tilts the scales to criminalize independence.”

The Amish farm is the epitome of independence from a system that has been corrupted by the financial influence of big business, according to Mr. Bartlett. He added that a solution will be found only after consumers shift their support from the mass produced industrial foods sold at most supermarkets to smaller, local farms.

“The biggest thing a consumer can do is to act independently from the system,” he said. “If a consumer wants to challenge that food system then voting with their dollar and supporting your local farmer is the best way to fight this government overreach.”

“The incentive isn’t complicated: whoever controls the food controls the people,” he added.

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