The National Black Farmers Association is calling for the CEO of Tractor Supply to step down. The Black farmers’ organization and other groups criticize Tractor Supply for giving in to conservative critics by ending its diversity outreach and environmental efforts to combat climate change.

‘Rolling back the clock with race relations’

The National Black Farmers Association called for Tractor Supply President and CEO Hal Lawton to resign from his positions on July 2 after Tractor Supply, a major supplier of farming and animal supplies with over 2,000 stores across the United States, announced the previous week it would end its diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, as well as getting rid of other progressive programs. The head of the Black Farmers organization, John Boyd Jr., recently said in an interview that he “was appalled by the decision” made by Tractor Supply to cancel its DEI programs.

“I see this as rolling back the clock with race relations,” Boyd added.

The move by the NBFA comes after previous efforts by the group to get Tractor Supply to respond to their concerns. Boyd said the company did not consult NBFA about its past diversity programs, nor did it respond to NBFA’s concerns about these programs being canceled. Furthermore, while Tractor Supply invited NBFA to apply to be a part of its foundation, the company rejected NBFA’s application just before announcing the end of its DEI efforts. Now, NBFA is calling for the head of Tractor Supply to step down and has indicated that it could also end up boycotting the company.

Right-wing attacks against diversity

The decision by Tractor Supply to get rid of its diversity programs was part of several changes announced by the company that rolled back more progressive efforts it had previously embraced. Tractor Supply has also announced it is ending its participation in Pride activities and will no longer give data to the Hunan Rights Campaign, a major pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. Tractor Supply also announced it would end voter outreach efforts and abandon its goal of limiting the company’s carbon admissions to fight against global climate change. These recent changes by the company came in response to conservatives criticizing the company for “going woke.”

Right-wing activists have attacked diversity efforts in court and over social media. Conservatives successfully sued to end affirmative action in college admissions, with the Supreme Court ruling in 2023 that colleges could no longer consider race in admissions decisions. Anti-DEI activists have targeted high-ranking public and private officials ranging from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott to former Harvard University President Claudine Gay, who resigned over accusations of plagiarism that came from conservative activists. Meanwhile, diversity advocates and other progressives have begun mobilizing to defend diversity efforts against these attacks.

The policy changes by Tractor Supply and the response from Black farmers represent a new area in which these battles are being fought. We will see how Tractor Supply responds to the potential loss of Black customers and the pressure from Black farmers to be accountable for its recent choices.