Black Farmers In Tennessee Claim They Were Sold Fake Seeds
Farmers in Louisiana and the Mid-South have fallen prey to a terrible scam from Stine Seed Company, saying that the company purposely switched seeds in packages to sell black farmers a lower-quality product. The farmers have filed a lawsuit against the company, and yields from the 2017 harvest have essentially proven their point.
Thomas Burnell, president of Black Farms and Agriculturalists Association said;
“Mother nature doesn’t discriminate. 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?”
Farmers bought more than $100,000 in soybean seeds from Stine Seed Company, and spent an additional $100,000 in chemicals for the crops. The BFAA has said that the distributor working for Stine Seed Company tampered with the packages, removing the certified seeds and selling the non-certified seeds at a high price.
Burnell has said the motivation behind the scam comes as farming is an incredibly competitive industry, and people see black farmers as easy prey. According to Burnell, hurting black farmers’ bottom line will result in their farms becoming a failure; allowing another farmer or company to purchase the land at a bargain.
“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 Stine Seed Company have responded to BFAA’s lawsuit, saying;
“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. Our focus is on continuing to serve all our customers with the highest degree of integrity and respect that are the bedrock of our company’s values.”