MN Farmer Indicted on Grain Fraud

Grand Jury Indicts Minnesota Farmer, Alleges He Falsely Sold Non-GMO Grain as Organic

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A grand jury indicted a Minnesota farmer on an alleged scheme to falsely sell non-GMO grains as organic. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A Minnesota grand jury indicted Cottonwood County farmer James Clayton Wolf on an alleged conspiracy to falsely sell $46 million in non-GMO corn and soybeans as organic, according to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

The indictment alleges Wolf sold grain without a grain-buyer's license. In addition, the indictment alleges Wolf repeatedly purchased non-organic corn and soybeans from a grain seller and resold the grain as organic from 2014 to 2020.

In all, Wolf is charged with three counts of wire fraud and is scheduled for an initial court appearance on July 22.

The indictment also said Wolf grew conventionally farmed crops using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which would be in violation of organic-farming standards.

For years, Wolf provided grain purchasers with copies of his National Organics Program certification, but according to the indictment, he withheld information the grains were not organically farmed. The scheme resulted in Wolf allegedly receiving more than $46 million in payments from grain buyers.

According to the indictment, Wolf allegedly directed some grain payments to a third party who then "spent the money for Wolf's benefit." His organic-farming certification was revoked in 2020; however, the indictment alleges Wolf "utilized an associate" to continue the scheme by selling non-GMO crops as organic.

Wolf and other associates communicated with a grain supplier and with buyers via email and telephone, including sending documents "falsely describing" the grain as organically grown.

Organic crops are grown without the use of GMOs or chemicals, and farmers are required to follow strict protocols when it comes to planting, fertilizing, harvesting, storage and transportation of the crops labeled as organic.

If Wolf is convicted at trial of the allegations, he would be forced to forfeit property derived from the proceeds of the alleged scheme. According to the indictment, that includes millions of dollars in a variety of Wolf's bank accounts, a number of tracts of land, 18 farm implements, several pickups and two sports cars.

Wolf did not respond to DTN's request for comment.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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Todd Neeley