Black Farmers Were Intentionally Sold Fake Seeds In Scheme To Steal Their Land: Report
A group of African-American farmers from Louisiana and the Mid-South region surrounding Memphis used science to uncover a multi-million scheme to put them out of business and steal their farmland, WMC News reported this week.
The black filed a lawsuit against a company that they said sold them fake soybean seeds at a convention. The lawsuit claims that 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, experienced 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?”
After losing millions of dollars, the farmers took the seeds for scientific testing by experts at Mississippi State University to have them tested.
The tests revealed the black farmers had not been given the quality “certified” Stine seeds for which they had paid.
As for a motive, Burrell said 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,” Burrell concluded.
The farmers have filed a class-action lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western Division in Memphis.
A state legislator is also seeking an investigation into the scheme.
Tennessee Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) vowed state government would investigate “issues which have negatively impacted our black farmers.”
“We will explore the avenues — whether its civil, whether it’s criminal — dealing with fraud,” Rep. Hardaway vowed.
One farmer victimized, David Hall, explained why he had paid extra for high quality seeds.
“We bought nearly $90,000 worth of seed” Hall explained. “It’s been known to produce high yield, so you expect it, when you pay the money for it, to produce the high yields.”
The farmers “were effectively duped,” Burrell told WREG-TV. “It’s a double whammy for these farmers, it accelerates their demise and effectively it puts them out of business.”
“No matter much rain Mother Nature gives you, if the germination is zero the seed is impotent,” Burrell reminded.
Watch WMC report below.