Ag Chair Pat Roberts says he knew a year before a media report that the Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program was not intercepting fraudulent imports of organic food. Roberts may now be ready to seek a fix in the next farm bill. He says the Washington Post reported recently that millions of pounds of shipments of possibly fraudulent “organic” products were imported into the US.
But that was not news to the Senate Ag chairman.
Roberts told a farm bill hearing last week that lawmakers need to ensure that "overregulation and antiquated government processes" are not keeping farmers from succeeding in tough economic times.
Roberts says the Board is not keeping up with the huge growth and new technology in the organic market, while an influx of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybean imports meantime, is cutting into domestic producer profits.
Kenneth Dallmier operates the Clarkson Grain Company, based in Cerro Gordo, and he told the Senate Ag Committee the threat is huge.
USDA recently decertified two of three firms involved in fraudulent shipments, while three key Senate Democrats have asked USDA’s inspector general to boost enforcement of organic import standards.
Dallmier recommended the Ag Committee consider adding staff at vulnerable ports, imposing tougher enforcement on shippers and recall requirements for end-users, and use of electronic farm- to-customer tracking devices that have less tampering risk than paper documentation.