Tractor Supply CEO Faces Call to Resign After Cutting Company’s DEI Program

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jul 05, 2024

On Tuesday, The National Black Farmers Association demanded that the president and CEO of Tractor Supply resign in response to an announcement from the company that it would stop its DEI initiatives.

Tractor Supply’s original decision to drop DEI came after outrage from “anti-woke” activists who have resisted DEI, climate activism, and pride celebrations.

Conservative Criticism and Boycott

For weeks online, Tractor Supply faced criticism for its support of DEI, climate activism, and especially LGBT events during the month of June which led to a call for a boycott among conservatives.

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Silhouette of a tractor operator driving a tractor during sunset, with the sun's rays creating a lens flare effect

Source: Spencer Scott Pugh/Unsplash

“Under CEO @hallawto, Tractor Supply promotes LGBT training, funds pride and drag events, supports sex changes, and pushes climate activism. Despite their conservative customers, they have a DEI Council, pride decorations, and LGBT events Consider shopping elsewhere, America,” said prominent conservative influencer Jack Posobiec in a June X post that got hundreds of thousands of views.

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Anti-American Store

This conservative criticism was also parodied by others online who found it to be one-note. A TikTok by user Zachrunsthings documented the “wokeness” on display at a local Tractor Supply.

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A tweet by Zachrunsthings "exposing" the wokeness of Tractor Supply.

Source: ZachRunsThings/X

“I drove across three suburbs just to stand in front of the most wokest, godless, anti-American store I could find. Tractor Supply,” said Zach before walking into the store and pointing out non-offensive things that he pretends to get offended over.

Tractor Supply Responds

Last week, Tractor Supply officially announced it would eliminate all of its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) company roles as well as DEI goals and end sponsorship of “nonbusiness activities” like LGBT Pride celebrations.

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The exterior of a Tractor Supply store.

Source: Wikimedia

The company also announced that it would be stepping back from goals around reducing its climate emissions, citing disapproval from its customers.

Tractor Supply Statement

In a corporate statement published on June 27, Tractor Supply announced substantial changes to its current direction and apologized for disappointing customers of rural America.

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A scoop seen with brown potatoes on the floor of a farm.

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

What Changes?

Tractor Supply produced a list of changes to go with its statement to comply with criticism from its conservative customers.

A person holding both hands together. Each hand has one of the letters for LGBTQIA+ on.

Alexander Grey/Unsplash

These included withdrawing on climate emission goals, ending a policy of submitting data to the Human Rights Campaign, and substituting these with a  focus on “rural America priorities.” The company also specifically mentions wanting to exclude pride festivals and voting campaigns.

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Outrage at the Decision

While Tractor Supply in their announcement seemed to be catering to outrage from some of their customers, this move did not win over everyone. Some took to social media to complain about the shuttering of DEI at the company.

Two people riding horses, both wearing cowboy hats, around many cows in the daytime in a large field.

Source: Bailey Alexander/Unsplash

“I’m just sick over your statement. Without DEI efforts, young folks with disabilities like my son would never have a chance to learn the joy of horsemanship. Y’all are great sponsors of his programs at SaddleUp! DEI lets every kid know the joy of life “out here,” said X user Anna Caudill.

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Black Farmer’s Association

The National Black Farmers Association has also come out swinging against Tractor Supply, accusing the company of turning back the clock.

An aerial photograph captures the expansive beauty of a rural landscape in autumn. A white two-story farmhouse with adjacent outbuildings sits nestled among vibrant trees showing their fall colors

Source: johnbryanesq/X

“I was appalled by the decision,” said John Boyd Jr., president and founder of the National Black Farmers Association.  “I see this as rolling back the clock with race relations — because the country is so divided on race, especially in rural America.”

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Immediate Resignation

Boyd demanded that Tractor Supply president and CEO Hal Lawton resign from his leadership position at the company.

African American farmer in a black shirt and cowboy hat pointing at a field with black cattle, standing by a wire fence

Source: JWBoydNBFA/X

“Tractor Supply has shown with its broken promises that it has little respect for black farmers,” said Boyd. “This affects our 130,000 members, many of whom regularly shop at Tractor Supply. Having repeatedly attempted to discuss our concerns with Mr. Hal Lawton, I am now calling for his immediate resignation.”

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Shared Sentiment

Many online expressed similar sentiments to Boyd, who felt like Tractor Supply was trying to say that they did not exist.

A heart is drawn on a rainbow in a persons open hand.

Source: Alexander Grey/Unsplash

“I’m a gay man who owns a farm and is a frequent buyer from your store. No more. Your statement is a slap in my face. It’s a denial of my existence.  It’s a step backwards for equality,” said X user Jimmy Williams.

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Spitting in Customer’s Faces

X user Ashton Pittmann accused Tractor Supply of spitting in the faces of customers who have long supported them.

A view overlooking a farm in California featuring rolling hills.

Source: Philip Halling/Wikimedia

“You know, I’m part of rural America, too, as are many other LGBTQ+ people and people of color and immigrants and disabled people. It’s such a shame that  @TractorSupply chose to bow down to a small, orchestrated campaign of hate—and spit in the face of so many of their customers,” Pitman wrote.

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Anti-Woke Advocates Celebrate

Underneath the X post of the Tractor Supply announcement, conservative accounts celebrated the decision to cut out DEI. “Wow. Incredible. All thanks to  @robbystarbuck and free speech on X. We will get rid of DEI one company at a time,” said user Libs of TikTok. 

A grouping of balloons floating on the ceiling.

Source: Adi Goldstein/Unsplash

“I’ll take the win. I was one in support of boycotting your business. I live in rural America and we do a ton of business with your company. Going woke means to go broke. Keep those ideologies out of your company,” said another X user.

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