Farmer Blows the Whistle on Fraudulent ImportsJuly 11th, 2019
Cornucopia continues to investigate organic grain imports and monitor USDA efforts to stop the flow of fraudulent organic grain into the U.S.
The article below features the impactful work of John Bobbe, the former executive director of OFARM, the largest organic grain cooperative in the U.S. Bobbe has worked tirelessly to stop fraudulent organic grain from crossing U.S. borders.
Cornucopia, OFARM, and others have collaborated in calling on the USDA to close loopholes, inspect high-risk shipments, and investigate foreign companies and certifiers that engage in questionable certification practices.
The article references Cornucopia’s work, The Turkish Infiltration of the U.S. Organic Grain Market, which chronicles how a small number of multibillion dollar agribusinesses came to dominate the U.S. organic grain industry.
Bobbe, who is also a farmer, points out how fraudulent grain imports depress the market for U.S. farmers, discourage the transition of conventional land to organic, and erode consumer confidence in the authenticity of organic food.
Cornucopia acknowledged Bobbe’s work in our report, Against the Grain, which documents the struggles faced by U.S. farmers as suspicious organic grain imports increased in recent years.
While the USDA continues to cite limited resources and insufficient evidence to conduct routine inspections of incoming shipments, private citizens like Bobbe and organizations like Cornucopia are committed to safeguarding the integrity of organic agriculture.
U.S. farmers stalk fraudulent imports to save their markets
by Adam Belz
The massive freighter left a port on the coast of Turkey in April, bound for the United States with a cargo of grain for farmers to feed to organic livestock.
From a desk at his farm in rural Wisconsin, John Bobbe was suspicious.
He wasn’t convinced that the cargo of the M.V. Andalucia, en route from the Black Sea to North Carolina, was legitimate. The ship’s itinerary, the owner of the grain, and the fact that the European Union had stopped recognizing the grain’s likely organic certifier stoked his doubts. He fired an e-mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as he has done often over the past four years trying to turn back a rising tide of counterfeit imported organic grain.
“This thing gets more bizarre as you go along,” Bobbe said. “The problem is that consumers are being potentially defrauded, and the price for farmers is going down.”