Farmer Detectives - One U.S. Farmer’s Role in Uncovering Organic Grain Fraud
U.S. sales of organic food have more than doubled over the past decade to reach a value of $48 billion per year. However, acreage of organic grain has not kept pace with this demand, with less than 1 percent of row crops in the country certified as organic. With high demand comes higher prices, and with U.S. consumers paying more for organic foods, the premium prices being paid for organics have opened the door to fraudulent players. However, the situation is also a double-edged sword, because prices for corn and soybeans that are two-to-three times those of conventional crops gave reason for the organic industry to downplay the situation.
John Bobbe, a farmer in Stevens Point, Wisconsin who is director of OFARM, a Minnesota-based umbrella group on behalf of organic farmer cooperatives, has witnessed the challenges in the supply chain. Even after his retirement in February he has kept up his work on behalf of U.S. organic grain farmers to uncover fraud on a global scale, and to push the National Organic Program to take action. The following is Bobbe’s story of how he has championed organic grain farmers, and helped uncover international fraudulent grain trade.