LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- A second Minnesota man involved in an alleged organic crops conspiracy has pleaded guilty to making a false statement and could spend up to 14 months in jail, according to a plea agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
In addition, Adam Clifford Olson, owner and operator of Olson Seed LLC in Windom, Minnesota, would have a Jan. 11, 2023, indictment against him dropped as part of the agreement with prosecutors.
Cottonwood County, Minnesota, farmer James Clayton Wolf pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud earlier in May for his role in a scheme to falsely sell $46 million in non-GMO corn and soybeans as organic. Wolf was indicted by a grand jury last year on three counts of wire fraud.
According to Olson's plea agreement he admits that he misrepresented the extent of his involvement in Wolf's farming operation when Olson applied for crop insurance in April 2020 for organic crops farmed by Wolf.
"Olson made the misrepresentation to obtain crop insurance and he knew at the time he signed the certification that it was false," according to the plea agreement.
As a result of Olson's actions, according to the agreement, the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. awarded $69,380 in total subsidies and reimbursements to Wolf's operation for 2020.
"On or about April 6, 2020, in the state and district of Minnesota the defendant Adam Clifford Olson knowingly and willfully made a false statement and report for the purpose of influencing the action of an insurer," the plea agreement said.
The one count Olson admits to carries up to 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.
According to the indictment, Wolf grew conventionally farmed crops using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which would be in violation of organic-farming standards. Olson was added to the indictment for his alleged role in the scheme.
GRAINS NOT ORGANICALLY FARMED
For years, Wolf provided grain purchasers with copies of his National Organics Program certification, but according to the indictment, he withheld information that the grains were not organically farmed. The scheme resulted in Wolf allegedly receiving more than $46 million in payments from grain buyers.
The indictment alleged Wolf 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 His organic-farming certification was revoked in 2020. The indictment, however, 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.
Read more on DTN:
"Indicted Farmer Changes Plea to Guilty," https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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