A Minnesota farmer is accused of making $46 million by passing off chemically treated corn and soybeans as organically grown.
James Clayton Wolf was charged July 7 in federal court with felony wire fraud. Prosecutors say Wolf falsely labeled crops grown on his rural Cottonwood County farm as organic and that he defrauded grain buyers and undermined the nation’s organic labeling system.
Organic crops are grown from non-GMO seeds and without chemicals or fertilizers. They generate higher prices at market than non-organic crops.
Organic crop certification is controlled by the federal National Organic Program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Certification revoked in 2020
The grand jury’s indictment says Wolf’s organic farming certification was revoked in 2020. However, according to the document, Wolf continued selling non-GMO grain falsely labeled as organic through an “associate,” the Start Tribune reported.
Wolf’s attorney is Paul Engh.
“Mr. Wolf is a 65-year-old career farmer, who has never been in trouble,” said Engh. “He’s led a good life and now seeks his vindication.”
Wolf is scheduled to appear before a magistrate on July 22.
Wire fraud is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger’s office said the indictment is the result of collaboration between the FBI and the inspector general’s office for the USDA.