Cornucopia’s Take: Three Nebraska farmers sold their conventional as organic grain to a Missouri man who subsequently marketed it as organic—to the tune of $140 million. The farmers are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in October. Randy Constant, the grain marketer and alleged leader of the scheme, was charged with wire fraud and is due in federal court today (Thursday, December 20). Although this large-scale fraud dates as far back as 2004, the USDA, sadly, never discovered it. Instead, reportedly, the perpetrators tripped up by marketing “certified organic grain” that tested positive for GMOs and were caught by a buyer doing testing. Impostor “organic” farms jeopardize authentic organic farmers and the overall integrity of the label itself.
Missouri farmer charged in $140M organic grain fraud scheme
by Ryan J. Foley, AP
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 charging document calls on Constant to forfeit $128 million to the government along with his interest in 70 pieces of farm machinery and equipment. His attorney, Mark Weinhardt, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Read Full Article »