A group of Mid-South black farmers claim they were sold fake seeds in a conspiracy to wipe them out.
The Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA) filed a class action lawsuit in April claiming the distributor for Stine Seed Company purposely switched soybean seeds. Farmers say they yielded no profit which cost them millions of dollars.
They say when they had the seeds tested, none of them germinated, so they know those seeds were no good.
They’re not sure what the motive was in selling them fake seeds, but black farmers claim that the farming industry is so competitive right now, they’re seen as easy targets to wipe out.
Now, they say they just want their fair share.
“Most of these farmers have been put out of business because of systemic discrimination,” said BFAA President Thomas Burrell.
In 1920, there were nearly one-million black farmers.
“Today, there are less than 5,000 black farmers,” said Burrell.
During a news conference, the local Black farmers talked about how that number continues to decrease after they say they were sold fake soybean seeds last year, which yielded no profit.
“These seeds now have become weaponized,” said Burrell.
In a class action lawsuit against Stine Seed Company and several distributors, the black farmers claim seed distributors which work for Stine tampered with seeds and sold fake ones to black farmers at a high price. Farmers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on seeds and chemicals, they say, for nothing.
“Switch the seeds and where do we end up? In financial ruin and disaster,” said Bishop David Allen Hall, Sr. with Temple COGIC.
Black farmers say they think of themselves as easy targets, easy prey, for other farmers who want to snatch up their land and put them out of business.
“It is competitive to the extent now that any acre of land that competitors can get they will use it,” said Burrell.
“All we simply want is the right to succeed,” said Hall.
Tennessee State Representative G. A. Hardaway plans to meet with legislatures to see if the state can provide any resources for black farmers.
The Black Farmers Association plans to ask the FBI and Homeland Security to investigate.
We reached out to Stine Seed company in Iowa, but we haven’t heard back.
Statement from Stine Seed Company regarding recent lawsuit
Attributable to Myron Stine of Stine Seed Company
“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.”