Randy Constant, who owns farms near Chillicothe, Missouri, recently plead guilty to federal fraud charges for up-charging customers- by more than $140 million– for conventionally produced grain that was sold as certified organic.
“…owned and operated a business called Organic Land Management, as well as a grain marketing firm in Iowa called Jericho Solutions. In federal court, Constant said he pocketed an enormous premium selling corn, wheat and soybeans as certified organic when they were not.
Three Nebraska farmers who supplied Constant pleaded guilty earlier this year to fraudulently marketing the non-organic grain.”1
According to Mark Kastel, who co-founded the organic-industry watchdog Cornucopia Institute, the USDA lacks the resources to police the organic food industry. In fact, Constant’s decade long fraud only ended when customers discovered that his grain had tested positive for GMOs.
Kastel said that very skilled investigators have to follow audit trails in order to see all the farm chemicals used to produce a crop, and even then, “the system is practically voluntary” which hurts organic farmers; “There are thousands of farmers, that are honest, that are getting thrown under the bus here.” 2
Constant will forfeit more than $128 million as well as 70 pieces of farm equipment (some tractors, combines and big trucks) he could also spend up to 20 years in prison.