This note of warning comes from David White of the Ohio Livestock Coalition. The incidences have been on traditional farms, but fish farms need to be vigilant also.
With rising commodity, input and energy prices, along with their remote locations, farms are ripe for outside mischief. Activities such as theft and undercover activists' investigations are not out of the realm of possibilities and you need to see that you are prepared and your business is protected. Now it appears there's another growing con that's focusing on agricultural-related businesses.
For example, an incident that occurred earlier this year on a Wisconsin farm involved a visitor who showed up claiming to be a state inspector. Upon further investigation with state agencies, the individual was found not to be a real government inspector.
More recently, cases out of Kansas report that a person or persons have been impersonating Kansas Department of Agriculture employees. In one instance, the impersonator took a check from the business to renew its business license. Other businesses in the state have reported that an individual has approached them, asking for cash to perform a food-safety inspection.
In fact, the Kansas Department of Agriculture has since issued a warning aimed at state-regulated businesses, advising them not to pay any licensing fees to individuals who show up claiming to be KDA inspectors. North Dakota has followed suit, with the state Agriculture Commissioner, Doug Goehring, issuing a warning to agricultural producers and businesses that are regulated by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture not to pay any fees directly to individuals who claim to be NDDA inspectors. Goehring stated that this is the type of scam that can spread quickly.
Such occurrences illustrate why it's important to be vigilant and aware regarding on-farm visitors. Always ensure that any visitors to your farm have the proper credentials. Certainly all official inspectors will be able to provide you with this information. If you're still not convinced, call authorities to verify that the person is who he or she claims.
Any suspicious incident should be reported to the authorities and to your state department of agriculture immediately.
Issues Management & Animals for Life
Center for Food & Animal Issues
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF)
Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC)