Kinzers, PA-At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday April 20, Amish farmer Dan Allgyer went outside to begin milking his small herd of dairy cows. On the normally quiet Kinzer Road in front of his farm, just a few miles from the Nickel Mines Amish massacre of 2006, several unfamiliar vehicles drove slowly past. Two months prior, on February 4, FDA agents had trespassed on Allgyer's farm, claiming to be conducting an "investigation." Allgyer had suspected they would be back at some point, because many other small dairy farms around the country have been similarly treated by the FDA. Following is Dan's account of Tuesday morning's events:
I became aware of the cars as soon as I walked out on the sidewalk as part of my morning routine around 4:30 a.m. and immediately said to myself something is going on, there is too much traffic on Kinzer Road. I was watching and noticed three cars were cruising down Kinzer Road right behind each other, and immediately thought, hey, that looks like trouble. I watched and pretty soon one car came back and parked on my neighbor's farm, on private property, just as the FDA agents had when they came on my property in February; it was exactly the same place.
A couple minutes later, the other two cars pulled up and joined the first on my neighbor's property, where the occupants appeared to be in conference with one another. Shortly after that, they turned their headlights on and drove in my lane - this would have been at about 5:00.
I stood back in the dark barn to see what they were going to do. They drove past my two Private Property signs, up to where my coolers were, with their headlights shining right on them. They all got out of their vehicles - five men all together - with big bright flashlights they were shining all around. My wife and family were still asleep. When they couldn't find anybody, they prepared to knock on the door of my darkened house. Just before they got to the house I stepped out of the barn and hollered at them, then they came up to me and introduced themselves. Two were from the FDA, agent Joshua C. Schafer who had been there in February and another. They showed me identification, but I was too flustered to ask for their cards. I remember being told that two were deputy U.S. Marshals and one a state trooper. They started asking me questions right away. They handed me a paper and I didn't realize what it was. Agent Joshua C. Schafer told me they were there to do a "routine inspection." At 5:00 in the morning, I wondered to myself? "Do you have a warrant?" I asked, and one of them, a marshal or the state policeman, said, "You've got in your hand buddy." I asked, "What is the warrant about?" Schafer responded, "We have credible evidence that you are involved in interstate commerce."
They wanted me to answer some questions, my name, middle initial, last name, wanted to know how many cows we have on the farm. I answered those questions and some more. Finally, I got over my initial shock and said I would not be answering any more questions. They said O.K., we'll get on with the "inspection."
I went to go talk to my wife. As I walked away, they held a quick excited conversation and I heard one of them say, "I'll take care of him." At that point, apparently, they had designated one of the marshals to stick close to me and dog my footsteps. He followed me as I walked toward the house. I went in the house quickly and told my wife a few words to let her know the situation, then immediately came back out of the house before the marshal had time to follow me in. When I came back out, they were inspecting all the coolers sitting out. They spent about a half hour digging through the packed coolers filled with milk and other food - all private property - taking pictures.
At one point during the cooler inspection the state trooper said to me, "You have a nice farm." I responded, "We're trying to be sustainable, but they don't want to let us."
While they inspected the coolers, I read the warrant. Among other things it said that any search was to be conducted "at reasonable times during ordinary business hours." When I exclaimed, "Ordinary business hours!" and pointed this out to the marshal who was dogging me, he said, "Ordinary business hours for agriculture start at 5:00 a.m." I challenged him that the warrant does not say agriculture hours, it said ordinary hours. He replied, "That's what the government told us."
Then they started looking around, as though in search of something in particular. They went up to one door that had a clear No Trespassing sign on it, specifically including government agents, and they did not go in the room, though they shone their flashlights around in it. Then they asked me, "What is on the other side of the door in that [same] room?" Agent Joshua Schafer asked this. I looked him in the eye and did not answer. When they saw I was not going to answer, the other FDA agent said, "Okay, come on," to agent Schafer, and they went into the room and through the closed door on the opposite side. I had another one of those signs on my walk-in cooler adjacent to my freezer, so they went through that door also. They spent probably another half hour rooting around, like a couple of pigs, in the freezer and cooler area and took many pictures.
When they came out, they asked me where I keep my containers and jugs for milk, and I refused to tell them. I figured they could look for themselves. Then they were walking all over the farm, checking everything out, everything except the house. Agent Joshua Schafer even opened my dumpster and inspected inside it, as though he thought I was hiding something in it. At that point I went and started milking my cows - it was way past milking time.
When I was just about done milking, Schafer and the other agent came in the barn and wanted me to answer some more questions. I told them I would not. The second agent said, "Are you gong to deliver those coolers to Bethesda and Bowie Maryland?" I just looked at him. Then Schafer made a gesture and said, "The stickers with those towns names are on the coolers," as through to say, you might as well tell me.
I replied, "I told you I won't answer any questions." After that they said, "We are done for today. You'll be hearing back from headquarters."
Then they got in their car and left. The state trooper and the marshals had left already.
They came in the dark, shining bright flashlights while my family was asleep, keeping me from milking my cows, from my family, from breakfast with my family and from our morning devotions, and alarming my children enough so that they first question they asked my wife was, "Is Daddy going to jail?"
THE NEXT MORNING Allgyer received an overnight, extremely urgent Letter of Warning from the FDA stating that "Failure to make prompt corrections could result in regulatory action without further notice. Possible actions include seizure and/or injunction."
ACTION: Please call and write the number and address below. Express yourself. Tell them that you support Dan Allgyer. If you drink fresh, unpastuerized milk tell them that. Tell them that more people every day are drinking fresh milk and this is going to increase. It's not going to stop no matter how many farmers they persecute. Tell them the government has no place between individuals and the farmers from whom they get their food.
Philadelphia District Office
Serves Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Food and Drug Administration
Second and Chestnut Streets, Room 900
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 597-4390 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time)