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Ohio Farmers Await Crackdown on Organic Import Fraud

The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing a proposed rule that is expected to reduce the importation of fraudulent organic products. (Adobe Stock)
The Office of Management and Budget is reviewing a proposed rule that is expected to reduce the importation of fraudulent organic products. (Adobe Stock)
June 17, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some Ohio farmers are anxiously awaiting a new federal rule designed to get tough on fraudulent organic imports. The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is expected to enhance federal oversight of organic accreditation and certification.

Angela Schriver, an organic grain farmer in Lorain County, said too many suspect products labeled 'organic' are coming into the country and undercutting domestic growers. She noted that the certified organic label comes at a higher price for both the grower and consumer, because it has higher standards.

"It's that integrity that keeps us going, and we know we're working for something that's larger than us, and more important on the grand scheme of things," she said. "And then, when you allow this counterfeit to come in and play the same game you're playing, it's extremely disheartening."

In the Black Sea region alone, the National Organic Program has decertified more than 275 operations after unannounced inspections.

Schriver said her products are selling for less than they were before bogus 'organic' grains became a problem. The difference," she said, "is about $8,000 less for a field of beans and $14,000 less for a field of corn.

"That is a large amount of money for people like us," she said. "It is being able to repair our tractor, and if you want to take your kids school-clothes shopping, you don't have to worry about things like that. That's kind of what it is for us. And those numbers were only on 20 acres."

The proposed rule has been under review by the Office of Management and Budget since November and will be open for a 60-day public comment period once it is published.

The proposed rule is online at Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH