Black Experience

Black Farmers’ Boycott Against John Deere Equipment Ongoing after Company Refuses Conference Participation

A National Black Farmers Association-led boycott of John Deere equipment that began a month ago remains ongoing with the group’s members adamantly stating that the nearly 200-year-old American industrial giant apparently cares little for equality and inclusiveness.

The association said in a statement that the boycott hinges on the Deere company’s steadfast refusal to display some of its equipment at the Black farmers’ annual conference.

“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,’ which is unacceptable.”

With 116,000 members in 42 states, the NBFA represents a substantial customer base for John Deere. According to Boyd, many farmers would relish the opportunity to see firsthand the new and emerging farm technology that is developed to enhance their performance and productivity. But he said the company continues to participate at predominantly White farm shows and events while snubbing the black farmers’ events.

The association said that since last year’s racial unrest spurred by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last year and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, many sectors of American society have recently taken actions to address the shameful racial disparities in treatment and opportunities that plague people of color.

But not at John Deere, according to Boyd, who said service call inquiries to John Deere equipment from Black farmers is much slower than for their white counterparts.

“We buy tractors and John Deere parts as well,” Boyd said. “We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not as a nuisance. We are asking all NBFA members to stop buying John Deere tractors, implements, mowers and parts. We are now open to new relationships with companies who value the work of NBFA members.”

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