Agricultural Fraud and Theft
The harvest of hay and early season produce has started, and the last thing a farmer wants to deal with is having to wrangle money out of an agricultural dealer they’ve sold product to; like anyone else they want and need to be paid promptly. For growers who do experience transaction problems, whether it’s complaints of theft, fraud or other unfair business practices the WSDA’s Agricultural Investigations Program is there to help. The AIP licenses more than 800 dealers, brokers, agents and cash buyers of livestock, produce, hay, seed and other crops. Generally, the WSDA requires licensees to purchase a bond. Bob Radke, WSDA’s investigations supervisor, talks about violator consequences.
RADKE: You know, it depends on the violation of course, but as an example, if you’re acting as a dealer without a license and you violate three times where we’ve told you you need to get licensed and bonded to protect the producer, if you’ve violated it can go up to fines up to $10,250 per violation. Then of course if it’s a theft case, we work with the county prosecutors, the sheriffs' offices, state patrol, and local pd’s and we’ll prosecute you, and if you deserve it, we’ll go out of our way to make sure that you take care of business.
As a basic rule of thumb though, farmers need to review contracts carefully, make sure they have full names, addresses, phone numbers and vehicle license tag numbers of their business partners, and check the licensing status of the individual or business before they give up possession of their crops.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.