Helping Producers Combat Fraud
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
WSDA’s Agricultural Investigations Program is designed to protect producers to make sure they are being treated fairly, and receive payment for the products that they sell. AIP manager, Jerry Buendel, says that every year the agency receives numerous reports of farmers cheated out of money owed to them, often by unlicensed commodity dealers. This summer the AIP is stepping up their normal summer enforcement to combat this type of fraud.
BUENDEL: We’re emphasizing a little bit more work out on the highways and the roads to stop producers. We’ll do these at roadside stops; some of them maybe be stops for vehicles that are already in route, but we’ll set up some roadside stops to inspect to see that people are properly licensed and in some cases carrying the right documents with them, and that’s really important with livestock movements.
In Washington anyone buying agricultural commodities, including produce, seeds, hay and livestock for resale, must hold a WSDA license.
BUENDEL: They range from a cash buyer, these are the folks that you might see at a roadside stand or a farmers market who buy commodities that way and are required to pay in cash, those licensees are a $125 a year. And then there’s a category called dealers and commissioned merchants and these are people who maybe buy a contract or a consignment arrangement, and those folks are required to have a license and a bond; the licensing fee is $560 a year and the bond varies with how much business that that particular operator does per year.
Tomorrow Buendel will talk about what producers themselves can do to ensure their protection against fraud, and what steps AIP investigators take upon receiving complaints from growers.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.