John Deere released a statement to Local 4 News in response to the ongoing boycott by the National Black Farmers’ Association:
In the past six years, John Deere has supported the National Black Farmers’ Association through equipment donation, conference attendance and sponsorship of the 2019 annual conference. As demonstrated by the coalition we announced last week we invest resources to eliminate systemic barriers facing Black farmers and communities, and will continue to do so through our continued partnership with organizations like the National Black Growers Council, Minorities in Ag, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
We remain committed to these organizations, the additional partners with whom we work, as well as Black farmers and the communities they represent.
EARLIER UPDATE: The National Black Farmers’ Association called for a boycott of John Deere products after what it says are years of “snubbing Black farmers’ events.”
The NBFA says it has invited Deere to display its equipment at its annual conference and “executives have curtly declined” repeatedly.
“John Deere has shown throughout its history that it has little respect for Black farmers. The company seems to view our invitations as a nuisance,” said NBFA president John Boyd. “I have reached out to Mr. John May, President of John Deere, numerous times to discuss the issues raised by the NBFA. Mr. May’s response is ‘I decline your invitation.’”
The NBFA has 116,000 members in 42 states, but Deere “declines to participate in the NBFA’s annual conference or display new equipment and parts as it does at other agricultural industry events.”
Boyd announced a boycott of John Deere on September 9.
“We are asking all NBFA members to stop buying John Deere tractors, implements, mowers and parts,” Boyd said.
In response, John Deere launched a coalition called “LEAP” on September 15 with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund that “will focus on addressing the decades long issue of heirs’ rights as well as improving the livelihoods of Black farmers.”
LEAP stands for “Legislation, Education, Advocacy, and Production Systems,” according to a Deere news release.
Boyd called it an attempt to “sidestep” the National Black Farmers’ Association’s boycott.
Boyd said Deere’s decision to “create a Black Farm Group is one of the most offensive and egregious corporate missteps I have ever witnessed. This is the equivalent of being rightly criticized on the facts by groups like the ADL and UnidosUS then creating groups to replace them. … Our boycott will continue and grow stronger.”