Amos Miller  has been warning of food shortages for some years, and lately, he has become more insistent, as in his July newsletter to members: “So, the question remains – how important are farmers? As of today, many farmers in our area have sold their animals in the past 6 months and discontinued farming because of the monopolized food system and also because of the rules and regulations that are written up, put in place and being enforced. This could cause a meat and food shortage sooner than one might ever expect. According to what we have been hearing, the meat price has doubled recently in the store. That is a sign that the demand is higher than it can be supplied. Keeping food on the shelves will not be helped with the drought on the West Coast and other parts of this country. In the wintertime, the East Coast is quite dependent on vegetables, etc. from the West Coast. Only God knows what may happen.”

 I always took the Amish farmer’s warnings with a grain of salt, seeing them as ammunition in his long-running battle with the U.S. Department of Agriculture trying to put him out of business for the last five years for selling farm-slaughtered meat privately to hundreds of food club members.. But this spring and summer, I’ve been watching a food shortage unfold in slow motion where I’m living, in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire, near the Vermont border. Many restaurants have reduced their hours by up to 50 per cent, not just because they can’t get help, but because they can’t get food; most restaurants are now closed Sun-Wed, leaving them open just three days per week. Local supermarkets are showing rotating empty shelves of everything from chips to meats.

USDA enforcement agents at Amos Miller’s farm during an inspection in 2016.

Further away, the outlook is increasingly grim, thanks to the accumulating problems of climate change. The ongoing West Coast drought and resulting water shortages is increasingly pressuring farmers in California’s Central Valley, which is America’s fruit and vegetable production center; a growing number are cutting back on acreage under production.

Unbelievably, on the other side of this equation, we see the main federal agency charged with promoting agriculture in the U.S. spending inordinate amounts of regulator time and court energy trying to put an Amish farmer who serves many hundreds of consumers with a reliable source of  nutrient-dense foods out of business. Miller might even have to destroy much of the meat he recently slaughtered. What is wrong with this picture?

Lots of Amos Miller’s food club members are seeing the disconnect quite clearly, and over the last few days more than 800 have begun to come to his financial rescue with their own hard-earned money. Their message to the USDA and federal judge Edward Smith, who slapped the $250,000-plus fine on Miller: there’s plenty wrong with this picture, and we stand behind our farmer and refuse to accept your thuggish attempt to force him out of business. Miller’s GoFundMe campaign to help defray his fine is closing in on its goal of $75,000, with signs it could keep expanding to help him pay ever more of his grotesque fine. And we don’t know what has been contributed to Miller privately per his request for either online or snail mail donations last week and his offer of 50% food credits for donations above $500.  

Here are some messages left by a few of the nearly 600 donors on the GoFundMe page:

“What is happening to these farmers is egregious. We must do what we can to help them.”

“Sadly, this country’s leaders have forgotten the meaning of true health. I pray that you raise enough to continue feeding those that live healthy and free!! God bless!!”

“My family and I have been greatly blessed with excellent health for nearly 20 years because of Miller’s Organic Farm. PLEASE HELP SAVE THIS FARM AND OUR FOOD FREEDOM!”

“I love the food from Amos Miller farms. It’s very healthy and I will continue to buy it. Amos and Anke are wonderful hard working people. Please let the farm continue.”

“Raw Milk is a superfood. Don’t let them start the food famine.”

“I have been purchasing nutrient dense foods from Miller’s Farm since 2004. It is so sad that the folks working to provide the ultimate remedy to the horribly destructive practices of factory farming are being attacked using our tax dollars. Amos Miller is a true hero!”

On and on the outrage and support for Miller continues. Apart from the support being provided to Miller, it’s uplifting to see food rights supporters focusing on a real food-rights issue, rather than getting sucked into the quagmires of Qanon and other rabbit holes. The factory food lobby retains a tight hold on the USDA, and the American Congress, unfortunately.  Fighting for Amos Miller’s right to sell farm-fresh food directly to food club members is one important way to communicate the cause of private food rights.

I suspect before this shameful episode is over, Amos Miller will have attracted many more members to his food clubs around the country, and the USDA campaign of harassment, inspections, and fines, will have turned into an embarrassment for the enforcers. In the meantime, I encourage readers here to continue the momentum on behalf of Amos Miller. It seems as if the politicians  and their regulator enforcers need to be reminded once again of a long-standing rule of life: it’s never smart politics to mess with people’s food.