A class action lawsuit filed by a group of Black farmers who were allegedly sold fake seeds will move forward, a judge decided.
The next hearing to present more facts involving bogus seeds sold to Black farmers by the Stine Seed Company is scheduled on Jan. 3, the Commercial Appeal reports.
The farmers say the proof that they were sold inferior seeds that cost them millions of dollars in sales is in the lack of crops they produced. With the help of science testing experts at Mississippi State University, the farmers discovered that the seeds they were sold were impotent. The farmers believe they are being purposely targeted in a multi-million dollar scheme to take their land from them.
“They swapped seeds and they sold the farmers fake seeds, but billed them for certified seeds,” Thomas Burrell, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, told the Memphis newspaper.
“Mother nature doesn’t discriminate.
“No matter much rain Mother Nature gives you, if the germination is zero the seed is impotent,” Burrell reminded.
Burrell said Black farmers were getting a fraction – one-tenth – of the yield as their white neighbors.
Burrell said he believes it was done to steal Black farmers land.
Bishop David Hall, a Black farmer and chairman of the Ecumenical Action Committee for the group said he too was victimized, said he paid extra for bogus high-quality seeds.
“We bought nearly $90,000 worth of seed” Hall explained. “It’s been known to produce high yield, so you expect it, when you pay the money for it, to produce the high yields.”
An investigation is underway, according to Democratic Tennessee Rep. G.A. Hardaway.
“We will explore the avenues — whether its civil, whether it’s criminal — dealing with fraud,” Rep. Hardaway vowed.
In July, Stine President Myron Stine said the farmers’ lawsuit against the seed company is “without merit and factually unsupportable.”