By Deborah Stockton
National Independent Consumers and Farmers Assn.
Kinzers, PA – At 9:40 a.m. Thursday, February 4, only a few miles from the scene of the Nickel Mines Amish massacre of 2006, another drama against the Amish began as agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came onto the property of Amish farmer Dan Allgyer, without permission, claiming to be conducting an investigation.
Agents Joshua Schafer and Deborah Haney, from the Delaware FDA office, drove past Allgyer’s “No Trespassing” signs and up his driveway almost to his barn, where Allgyer happened to be outside. Allgyer approached the car, the agents got out and Allgyer asked them why they were there. They produced a piece of paper, asked Allgyer if he was Dan Allgyer, which Allgyer confirmed, asked him his middle initial and phone number, entered the information on the paper, told Allgyer they were there to do an inspection and started reading the paper to him, saying it gave them jurisdiction to be there.
The agents – Schafer did most of the talking – said they had a right to be there because “you produce food for human consumption.” Dan asked why they believed that and they said, “Well, you have cows. You cannot be consuming all the milk you produce.” They further stated, “If you get a milk truck in to move all this milk you sell milk to the public, therefore we have jurisdiction.”
Dan said, “This is a private farm, I do not sell anything to the public.”
As they continued to harass him about doing an inspection, Allgyer said, “You can sit in your car. I will call my lawyer.”
The agents remained standing.
Allgyer called his attorney who advised him to have the agents call him. When Allgyer told them to call his attorney Schafer replied, “You are the owner and you have to speak for yourself.”
They pressed him to talk and Schafer asked, “Are you refusing us an investigation? Allgyer replied, “That’s not what I’m saying.”
They kept repeating, “Are you refusing an investigation?”
Allgyer kept saying, “Call this guy” – meaning his attorney.
Allgyer said they must have asked him six times.
One of them said, “Even if you do not say so, you are still refusing an investigation.”
Eventually Schafer said, “If you refuse an investigation will you answer some questions?”
Allgyer said, “I’d rather not.”
When the agents continued to push him Dan said, “Is that a question?
Sheepishly, they said. ‘Yes.”
Allgyer said, “What did I say about questions?’
They replied, “Well we’re going to write this up as a refusal to have an investigation and give it to our higher officials.”
Dan felt they were threatening him at this point.
After that, they got in their car, drove out the driveway and parked on the neighbor’s property watching Allgyer.
A visitor, Ivan, who had been on the farm, though not part of the conversation, left in his truck soon after, and the FDA agents proceeded to follow him in their car, even when he stopped at a convenience store to use the facilities. After forty or fifty miles, Ivan called 911 and told the police he was being followed.
The state police – in two cruisers – pulled the agents over. Ivan pulled over as well.
Ivan said the police told him that the agents explained they were FDA agents and they had the right to follow him because they were conducting an investigation on the farm he left. They thought he had product and they wanted samples of the product.
Ivan responded by opening the back of the truck and revealing it was empty. The agents photographed the inside of the empty truck and gave Ivan a paper, claiming they had a right to inspect his truck. He told them they were harassing him. The state trooper said they had a right to follow and pull him over but they were in an unmarked car so Ivan would not have had to pull over.
As with Allgyer, the agents asked Ivan some information which they wrote on the paper they produced, then handed it to him.
Ivan asked them, “Why are you writing up a paper on me when you have no cause?”
They said, “We have a cause, because you left the farm.”
They claimed he had a load off the farm and they wanted samples.
Ivan said, “I didn’t know who you were.”
An agent replied, “You saw us at the farm.”
Ivan said. “That doesn’t make any difference, I didn’t know who you were.”
Ivan pointed out that he was at the farm but did not hear what they said. He was twenty feet or more away from them and was not involved in their conversation.
Ivan said the police told him they would record that the agents had been following him.
A spokeswoman for the FDA (reached at the phone number on the paper the FDA agents gave to Allgyer) said the FDA has no comment at this time because it is an ongoing investigation.
Dan Allgyer will meet with his county sheriff in the near future to apprise him of this incident.
We will update this story as needed.