A group of Mid-South farmers claims Stine Seed Company purposefully switched seeds to sell black farmers a subpar product last year.
The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association alleges a distributor switched out certified seed for lesser quality soybean seeds, and that despite above average rainfall, the farmers saw limited soybean yield from the seeds during the 2017 harvest.
The seeds were analyzed at Mississippi State University which says tests show the products were not certified Stine seeds. The class action lawsuit was filed earlier this year.
The lawsuit is the latest action by the association, which also has represented some of the African-American farmers claiming widespread discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The group said this week that the number of black farmers has decreased from nearly one million in 1920 to 5,000 today largely due to “systemic racism” by the U.S. government and now seed companies.
In a statement to the Des Moines Register, the Iowa-based Stine Seed Company called the lawsuit “without merit and factually unsupportable,” adding an internal investigation has “not revealed any evidence” supporting the allegations.