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Black Farmers Association digs in heels on Deere boycott


The back and forth between the National Black Farmers Association and agricultural-equipment manufacturer John Deere has taken another turn, as association president John Boyd criticized John Deere for setting up a minority coalition that would rival his own group. Boyd vowed that the calls for his membership to boycott John Deere — including its tractors, implements, mowers, and parts — would continue.

The dispute reached a tipping point last week when Boyd announced the boycott effort, claiming that Deere has snubbed all invitations to appear and showcase new technology and innovations at the National Black Farmers Association annual convention. Boyd alleged that it showed Deere “has little respect for black farmers,” while also saying that “the company seems to view our invitations as a nuisance.”

Deere responded a few days later and said, “In the past six years, John Deere has supported the National Black Farmers Association through financial sponsorship, equipment donation, and participation in the 2019 annual conference.” That, coupled with Deere pledging $1 million to the NAACP Empowerment Programs to fight racial inequality over the summer, was intended to show that Deere was embracing its minority customers and recognizing that race relations and diversity efforts need to improve in the U.S. 

Deere’s new coalition — called LEAP (Legislation, Education, Advocacy, and Production Systems) and built out of a partnership with the National Black Growers Council and Minorities in Ag, Natural Resources and Related Sciences — will collectively address priority legislation, expand educational and advocacy opportunities, and ensure access to tools and technology all farmers need to successfully navigate advanced production systems.

Boyd, in a statement released after the coalition announcement, calls the move “offensive” and an “egregious corporate misstep.” He also said that Deere’s claim to have participated in the 2019 conference was false. Boyd claims that he has an email message dated Oct. 15, 2019, from Andrez Carberry, Deere’s Head of Global Talent Supply and Diversity and Inclusion, declining to participate or display equipment at the 2019 convention.

The authenticity of that claim could not be confirmed, and a request has been made by AGDAILY through John Deere’s PR agency for photographic or other proof of Deere’s involvement at the event.

“The boycott against John Deere will continue as we ask our NBFA members, African partners, and allies to stop buying John Deere tractors, implements, mowers and parts,” Boyd said. “We remain open to new relationships with companies who value the work of NBFA members.”

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