At a time when the U.S. market demands more organic corn and soybeans than are supplied by domestic organic growers, those same growers are threatened by the flooding of the market with cheaper fraudulent grains. The resulting impacts of eliminating market opportunities while at the same time threatening the value of the organic label hurt organic farmers in this country.
The National Organic Program (NOP) must take action to protect the organic label.
According to the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), the U.S. currently produces only about 60% of the organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market demands, while demand is increasing by about 14% per year. Meanwhile, the U.S. market is being flooded with fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans. In May, the Washington Post documented three large shipments –totaling 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports— originating from questionable overseas certification and fraud.
OFARM says, “For over two years, organic grain producers have seen their prices, market opportunities and bottom-lines on their farms decline due to fraudulent imports. The losses to the twelve Midwestern state organic grain producers (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, IA, WI, IN, MI, MN, OH) totals over $150 million in lost income for the crop years 2015 and 2016 and if all 48 states and 2017 income losses are included, it is over $250 million. This situation is unsustainable and will not grow the domestic supply of organic grain.”
USDA must exercise its authority to enforce existing regulations and develop additional stringent regulatory oversight procedures to fulfill its obligations under the Organic Foods Production Act and safeguard the integrity of the USDA organic seal. USDA must immediately:
⦁ Enforce the currently enacted regulations to ensure imports comply with the U.S. organic standards;
⦁ Implement additional regulations to deter and prevent the import of fraudulent organic products; and
⦁ Regulate third-party certifiers and equivalent agencies in other countries administering USDA organic standards.
If you are a farmer who has been harmed by import fraud, please add your story to the letter.