Black farmers in the US’s South—faced with continued failure in their efforts to run successful farms—have launched a lawsuit claiming that “white racism” is to blame for their inability to produce crop yields equivalent to that of white farmers.
The lawsuit—which would be laughable if it did not have such serious time and money-wasting consequences for the company being sued—is the product of the blacks-only “Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association” headquartered in Tillery, North Carolina.
The black farmers claim in their lawsuit that Iowa-based Stine Seed Company purposefully switched seeds in order to sell black farmers a subpar product at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in March 2017.
Despite above average rainfall, the black farmers saw limited soybean yield from the Stine seeds during the 2017 harvest.
“Mother nature doesn’t discriminate,” President of Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association Thomas Burrell said. “”It doesn’t rain on white farms but not black farms. Insects don’t [only] attack black farmers’ land…why is it then that white farmers are buying Stine seed and their yield is 60, 70, 80, and 100 bushels of soybeans and black farmers who are using the exact same equipment with the exact same land, all of a sudden, your seeds are coming up 5, 6, and 7 bushels?,” he asked, refusing to even consider the obvious answer.
The blacks claim that the seeds which were sold to them were “not certified Stine seeds” and that the “distributor working for Stine Seed Company used labeled certified seed backs—tampering with factory sewn seals, in order to remove the certified seeds.”
Burrell said that the motive was that “farming is a very competitive industry and unscrupulous people see black farmers as easy prey. He said by hurting those farmers’ bottom line, someone else would be able to swoop in and buy up the land that belongs to black farmers.”
“All we have to do is look at here: 80 years ago you had a million black farmers, today you have less than 5,000.
“These individuals didn’t buy 16 million acres of land, just to let is lay idle. The sons and daughters, the heirs of black farmers want to farm, just like the sons and daughters of white farmers. So we have to acknowledge that racism is the motivation here.”
The farmers filed a class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Western Division in Memphis on April 19, 2018 against Stine Seed Company of the largest genetic seed trait manufacturer in the world.
Stine Seed Company President Myron Stine dismissed the claims as “without merit and factually unsupportable. A statement issued by the company read:
“The lawsuit against Stine Seed Company is without merit and factually unsupportable. Stine takes seriously any allegations of unlawful, improper, or discriminatory conduct and is disturbed by the baseless allegations leveled against the company.
“Upon learning of these claims, the company took swift action to conduct an internal investigation, which has not revealed any evidence that would support these allegations.
“Stine intends to vigorously defend itself against this meritless lawsuit and has filed a motion to dismiss.”
Stine Seed Company is the largest independently owned seed company in the US, and provides seeds to thousands of customers every planting season and covers millions of acres across the country.
U.S. farmers are more than 95 percent white, according to 2017 federal statistics, while blacks make up less than 1 percent of the profession.