For Immediate Release
OFARM and Food & Water Watch Request Audit of Imported Organic Grain
An organic grain producers group and a citizens’ advocacy organization are urging the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the integrity of imported organic grains.
OFARM and Food & Water Watch wrote to USDA Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong about the potential for fraudulent organic imports to undermine consumer expectations and the market for domestic organic producers. The Office of Inspector General is currently auditing the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) oversight of an organic equivalency agreement between the United States and the European Union (EU).
As part of their letter, OFARM and Food & Water Watch requested that OIG “…examine the dramatic increase in the import of organic commodities, especially grains. A key area of concern for U.S. organic gain growers, and increasingly for consumers, is whether these in creased imports present an opportunity for fraudulently labeled organic products to enter the United states, undermining the opportunity for U.S. producers to get affair price in the market.”
The letter noted particular concern about dramatic increases in the import of organic grains from a few countries. During the first six months of 2016, there was a dramatic increase in the dollar value of organic soybean imports from Turkey, with more than thirty-six times the value of imports from Turkey in the first six months of 2016 than the same time period in 2015. During the first six months of 2016, there was a dramatic increase in the dollar value of imported organic yellow dent corn from Turkey, with more than five times the value of imports from Turkey in 2016 than the same time period in 2015.
The groups’ letter to USDA’s OIG further noted “As the organic market grows rapidly around the world, resulting shortages in the supply of various commodities can create a tempting satiation for those who do not value the integrity of the organic standards and see a potential to ship products fraudulently labeled as organic.”
“These long international supply chains increase the opportunities for breaks in the chain of recordkeeping, organic certification and verification that the USDA organic seal is built upon,” said John Bobbe, executive director of OFARM. “We need the USDA to make sure that organic imports are meeting the same organic standards that U.S. producers do.”
The OFARM/Food & Water Watch letter concludes with a request for the OIG to examine whether:
- NOP’s procedures to assess whether the EU’s processes for accreditation and certification are adequate to ensure the integrity of bulk shipments of commodities that are pooled from many farms;
- NOP has an adequate system to track bulk commodity shipments produced in other countries outside the EU that are certified by EU-based certifiers, or shipped through EU countries;
- NOP should collect other data to gain a better understanding of source of imports, back to the certifier and farm level.
To read the full letter, go to previous post.
The Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) has six member organic grain and livestock marketing cooperatives with organic producers in 19 states from Montana to Texas and Louisiana to Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio and all states in between.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
CONTACT: John Bobbe Executive Director, OFARM 715.467.0031 firstname.lastname@example.org www.OFARM.coop