Farmer Charged in $140M Organic Grain Fraud Scheme

Associated Press writer Ryan J. Foley reported yesterday that, “A Missouri farmer and businessman ripped off consumers nationwide by falsely marketing more than $140 million worth of corn, soybeans and wheat as certified organic grains, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

“The long-running fraud scheme outlined in court documents by prosecutors in Iowa is one of the largest uncovered in the fast-growing organic farming industry. The victims included food companies and their customers who paid higher prices because they thought they were buying grains that had been grown using environmentally sustainable practices.

“The alleged leader of the scheme was identified as Randy Constant of Chillicothe, Missouri, who was charged with one count of wire fraud. He is expected to plead guilty during a hearing that is scheduled at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday.”

The AP article noted that, “Industry watchdog Mark Kastel called the scale of the fraud ‘jaw-dropping’ and probably the largest ever documented involving U.S. farmers. He said the case points to weak oversight of the organic industry by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

Mr. Foley added that, “Constant told customers his grain was certified organic because some of it had been grown on his farms in Missouri and Nebraska. But the charging document alleges that at least 90 percent of the grain being sold was non-organic grain that he either grew himself elsewhere or bought from other farmers.

“Constant was aware that farmers he purchased from used unapproved substances, including pesticides and nitrogen, to grow their crops, the document says.”

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