Call Senators Grassley & Ernst to Stop Organic Import Fraud

Iowa Organic Association and Organic Farmers Association (OFA) are working together to promote more organic support in the 2018 farm bill and we need your help.  

Fraudulent organic grain imports have been flooding the US market, reducing the price of grain for Iowa farmers.  Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst's office are potential candidates to Co-Sponsor the companion bill to the House’s Organic Consumer Protection Act in the Senate, which would put in measures to increase enforcement and level the playing field for Iowa farmers.  WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY!

The House Organic Consumer Protection Act (H.R.3871) has 35 co-sponsors and includes a number of measures to stop the import of fraudulent organic grain. Senator Baldwin (D-WI) is working on a bi-partisan Senate companion bill and she needs a republican co-sponsor--we think Senator Grassley and Ernst are a great fit--especially if they sign on together.

Today, could you please call Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst's offices and ask that they Co-Sponsor the senate Organic Research Act with Senator Baldwin?
Call:  Senator Grassley's office and ask to speak with Andrew Brandt (Agricultural Legislative Aide): (202)224-3744
Call:  Senator Ernst's office and ask to speak with Michael Doelch (Agricultural Legislative Aide):  (202)224-3254
1.     Introduce yourself, where you are from, a little bit about your farm, and how fraudulent organic imports impact you.  

2.     Talk about your concern about fraudulent organic grain affecting Iowa farmers' ability to compete on level-playing field.  This is an integrity issue where we need Iowa Senator support to put America First.  (see talking points below if you want more info)

3.      Ask that Senator Grassley & Ernst work with Senator Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce and co-sponsor the Senate companion bill to Organic Consumer Protection Act (H.R.3871).   This is a bill that will affect thousands of Midwest farmers and it will be a strong statement of support for American farmers coming from Midwest Senators. 

U.S. organic production lags far behind U.S. organic demand.  Currently we import 70% of the organic soybeans and 40% of the organic corn used here in the US.   If anyone can close this market gap on corn and soybeans, its Iowa farmers.  However, we cannot increase Iowa organic production without assurances that our competition is being held to the same standards as US organic farmers.   

Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing Inc. (OFARM) represents the interests of five organic marketing cooperatives, including grain producers in Iowa and has been working diligently on the organic import fraud issue. OFARM thinks 60 to 70% of organic imports may be fraudulent. Some come through Turkey, where fraud is rampant, and some from India, where standards are not checked thoroughly for sanitation issues. OFARM suspects Turkish organized crime is involved, with colleagues in Russia and Ukraine.

Currently, the U.S. produces only about 60% of the required organic corn and 10-30% of the organic soybeans the market requires.  Yet the organic trends show the demand increasing at about 14% a year.  This seems like a great opportunity for Iowa farmers (especially beginning farmers) as organic commodity prices are typically 2-3 times greater than conventional prices; however, for over two years organic grain producers have seen their prices, market opportunities and bottom-lines on their farms decline due to fraudulent imports.  This HURTS IOWA FARMERS.

The financial 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.  The income loss of all 48 continental states and 2017 income losses is over $250 million, due to an influx of fraudulent "organic" grain.  This situation is unsustainable and directly hurts Iowa farmers who want to contribute to the US domestic supply of organic grain.

As documented by the Washington Post investigative reporter, Peter Whoriskey, (May 12, 2017) “The label said ‘organic’ but these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t” the profits on one shipload of imported fraudulent grain was over $4 million.

The USDA must STOP organic fraud and this bill will provide the National Organic Program with the tools and resources to do so.  The Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act includes new Farm Bill requirements for USDA, in coordination with Customs and Border Protection, to implement enhanced procedures to track organic imports and ensure that imported products fully comply with U.S. organic standards.  

Conventional and organic farmers are watching the organic market and ready to transition acres, but they need assurance from Congress that if they transition, the crops will be competing in a fair marketplace, where America is First.   Iowa Senators must stand up to fraudulent imports and protect Iowa farmers.

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