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Missouri farmer charged in organic grain fraud scheme

A Missouri farmer and businessman has been charged with operating a $140 million organic grain fraud scheme.

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Jason Morrison | Freeimages.com

A Missouri farmer and businessman has been charged with operating a $140 million organic grain fraud scheme.

Randy Constant, of Chillicothe, Missouri, was charged with one count of wire fraud in connection with the false marketing of $140 million worth of corn, soybeans and wheat as certified organic grains. He is expected to plead guilty in court this week.

The long-running scheme is one of the largest of its kind that has been uncovered. Victims included food companies and their customers who paid a premium for products that they thought were made using organic grains.

Court documents request that Constant forfeit $128 million to the government along with his interest in 70 pieces of farm machinery and equipment.

Constant was owner of Organic Land Management, which held U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certificates to produce organic corn and soybeans in Missouri and Nebraska. He also owned Jericho Solutions, of Ossian, Iowa, which sold and marketed grain labeled as organic to customers nationwide.

According to court documents, Constant told his customers his grain had been grown on his farms in Missouri and Nebraska and was certified organic. But the documents allege that 90 percent of the grain was non-organic and that he either grew it himself elsewhere or bought it from other non-organic farmers. Court documents also say Constant was aware that farmers he purchased the grain from used substances like pesticides and nitrogen to grow their crops.

Three Nebraska farmers who sold their crops to Constant pleaded guilty in October to their roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing.

Constant sold more than $142.4 million worth of falsely marketed grain to at least 10 customers across the U.S between 2010 and 2017. The entire scheme allegedly began at least as early as 2004. In mid-2017, Constant voluntarily surrendered his certificate to operate in the USDA’s National Organic Program.

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