Some African American farmers in Mississippi are filing a lawsuit alleging a company purposefully sold them defective seeds. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
Thomas Burrell is the President of Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association. He is a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Stine Seed Company in Iowa. Burrell says black farmers in Mississippi paid on average more than $100,000 each for certified genetically modified soybean seeds.
"These farmers have been growing soybeans for decades and decades so they knew that there were some deficiencies here. So here's what we did, we called the president of the corporation. So they sent their chief agronomist down to a field in Mississippi in Sunflower County to tour the crop. One of the first things stated is that yes you have a yield problem, said Burrell."
Burrell says it was a "bait and switch." He says Mississippi State University further studied the crops and proved some seeds were fake.
Soybeans are the top row crop and number three on the list of agricultural commodities in Mississippi, according to the MSU Extension Service. In 2015, Mississippi soybean producers harvested over 100 million bushels on nearly 2.3 million acres.
Burrell says he believes it's part of a larger effort to take land from black farmers.
"So they've invested these hundreds of millions of dollars collectively to be productive and competitive only to find out the seeds that they actually planted will not generate enough income to service the debt associated with the high investment in equipment," said Burrell.
Stine Seed Company president Myron Stine has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In a statement, he says allegations of discrimination are false and cannot be proven. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.