END WOKENESS: Tractor Supply backtracks support for woke goals about DEI, LGBTQIA and carbon targets
07/08/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

Tractor Supply Company, a rural lifestyle retailer giant in the U.S., is now stopping its diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and climate targets, will no longer sponsor Pride festivals and will stop submitting data to the Human Rights Campaign. The Brentwood, Tenn.-based company announced the series of sweeping changes in a statement shared on social media on Thursday, after weeks-long pressure from conservative groups.

"We work hard to live up to our Mission and Values every day and represent the values of the communities and customers we serve," it said. "We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them. We have taken this feedback to heart."

Former entertainment lawyer Rogan O'Handley, with the handle DC_Draino on X, formerly Twitter, lauded the move and called it a victory. "VICTORY! Tractor Supply listened to their customers and got rid of the woke rot. This is the way," he said.

Tractor Supply sells farm supplies, animal feed, tools, fencing and clothing (but not tractors) at more than 2,200 stores across 49 states. According to its website, its customers are primarily farmers, horse owners, ranchers, tradesmen and suburban and rural homeowners. Last year, it was recognized as an inclusive and diverse workplace, including in Bloomberg's Gender Equality Index and Newsweek's inaugural list of America's Greatest Workplaces for Diversity. (Related: CLAIM: Tractor Supply chicken feed allegedly laced with ingredients causing chickens to stop laying eggs; company board members tied to WEF, Jeffrey Epstein.)

However, it became the target of conservative ire for that very reason, as the latest in a growing series of retailers to face backlash over its DEI initiatives. As industry analyst Craig Webb reported, the company is responding to a call for a boycott by influencer Robby Starbuck on June 6. Starbuck launched a campaign against Tractor Supply earlier this month on X.

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He wrote that it was "time to expose Tractor Supply," which he said was one of conservatives' most beloved brands but was at odds with their values. He pointed to its DEI hiring practices, in-office Pride Month decorations, climate change activism and "funding sex changes," among other complaints.

"I take no pleasure in bringing this all to light," Starbuck added. "I am a Tennessean who loves to support TN companies but as a proud Tennessean I know these woke priorities don't align with our state or @TractorSupply's customer base." He urged others to "respectfully" flood Tractor Supply's corporate offices with calls and emails stating their disapproval and, to the extent possible, start buying products from other stores instead.

After this, the Financial Times reported that it knocked five percent off the Nasdaq-listed company's share price in the past month.

Tractor Supply reversed course before June ended. "Going forward, we will ensure our activities and giving tie directly to our business," it said.

Black farmers call for Tractor Supply's CEO's resignation

After the farming supplies retail firm announced the ending of its wokeness, the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) called on Tractor Supply's president and CEO Hal Lawton to step down.

"I was appalled by the decision," John Boyd Jr., NBFA president and founder, complained in an interview. "I see this as rolling back the clock with race relations because the country is so divided on race, especially in rural America."

Boyd said Tractor Supply stores can be found where much of NBFA's 130,000 members are located. Like other farmers, he said Black farmers have shopped at the chain for years. Boyd, who is also a Tractor Supply shareholder, estimated personally spending more than $10,000 at his local store since January alone – buying supplies like fencing wire and feed for his cattle and horses in Virginia.

"He's [Lawton] gone too far and we have to let him know we're not going to sit back and take this mess anymore," Boyd said, adding that the organization may consider calling for a boycott of Tractor Supply if nothing changes in the coming days. "We're tired of being mistreated by the government and Fortune 500 companies. Black farmers are going to start fighting back. And that's what we're doing."

Some customers already shop elsewhere, including Squirrelwood Equine Sanctuary, a New York animal sanctuary that says it spends more than $65,000 annually on livestock feed and other supplies at Tractor Supply. According to the Associated Press, Squirrelwood co-founder Beth Hyman said she first heard about the company's decision when the sanctuary's supporters reached out to ask if the group planned to make a statement about it. Hyman, who is gay, said she told the manager the sanctuary could no longer support Tractor Supply if its announcement reflected its beliefs.

Consumers of all backgrounds are becoming more influenced by social media and choosing to redirect their spending if they feel like companies don't align with their values, Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing consultancy Metaforce, said. With the case of Tractor Supply, whose business is tethered to rural communities, anti-DEI activism put the retailer in a "really tricky" situation where it had to do something to stop a potential exodus, he explained.

Tractor Supply's reversal follows boycott campaigns against Bud Light and Target last year over their LGBTQ+ marketing. Target decided not to carry Pride Month merchandise in all its stores this June following last year's backlash.

Head over to LeftCult.com for news about governments' push for woke ideologies such as DEI, LGBT and climate alarmism.

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