Feds investigate organic farming fraud in Idaho

Federal investigators believe a routine inspection by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture last year turned up a case of organic-farming fraud in Southern Idaho.

❝ Prosecutors are seeking to seize vehicles, farming equipment, cash and other property belonging to Saul Farms and its owners, Bernard and Roza Saul, of Bliss, under suspicion the property was purchased with fraudulent proceeds. They say the Sauls repeatedly bought nonorganic seed and resold it as organic, which commands higher prices.

Prosecutors also want a federal judge to grant them access to a $1 million property that includes a residence and 438 acres in Buhl purchased by the Sauls, though they are not seeking to seize that property.

No charges have been filedyet.

The owners of businesses in other states that bought what they thought was organic alfalfa seed told the Statesman they now are scrambling to find new suppliers. Farmers and seed-handlers that bought from Saul Farms or its sister company, Bliss Seed, supply dairy and beef operations across the Midwest, the East Coast and the Southeast.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Feb. 11 filed a legal complaint in U.S. District Court in Twin Falls County to seize the property, based on events Boise-based FBI agent Drew McCandless recounted in an affidavit.

Oops! RTFA for beaucoup information about regulatory oversight of organic producers in Idaho.

What will be the repercussions for the organic dairies, etc., growing alfalfa from this seed to sell organic food products?

2 thoughts on “Feds investigate organic farming fraud in Idaho

  1. drugsandotherthings says:

    As someone who was an organic farmer for more then a decade, and worked in the industry for twice that… I think the whole thing is a fraud. When I started there were less then a half dozen states with standards- and the gems at Oregon Tilth. For many of us- certification meant looking our customers in the eye. Inviting them to the farm. A handshake.
    I dropped “organic” certification after the Feds took over the program in the late 90’s- diluting it horribly. (And yes, I was lucky- my main customers were high end restaurants who didn’t care about certification- just quality and trust in their farmers.
    Farmers Markets, Co-Ops, neighborhood gardens… I’d rather know my farmer then rely on a federal stamp of “organic”- which anymore too often means your buying from a multinational conglomerate and your “organic” food may have been grown in china, columbia, or timbuktu…

  2. Victor Lindlahr says:

    “Farmer kills himself to avoid prison for massive organic food scam” (NY Post Aug 21, 2019) https://nypost.com/2019/08/21/farmer-kills-himself-to-avoid-prison-for-massive-organic-food-scam/
    “….Between 2010 and 2017, [Randy] Constant sold more than 11.5 million bushels of grain more than 90 percent of which he falsely claimed was grown on certified organic fields in Nebraska and Missouri.
    During 2016, his crooked sales equaled about 7 percent of all organic corn and about 8 percent of all organic soybeans grown in the US, prosecutors said.”

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