Tractor Supply Faces Pushback, Calls For CEO Resignation

When companies get overtly political, they automatically alienate half (or more) of their potential consumer base. 

Tractor Supply is quickly discovering this in the wake of its recent announcement regarding rolling back DEI and climate change initiatives. 

In yielding to conservative bullies, the company might have thought it was earning the allegiance of current customers. But it must’ve forgotten that consumers of all races, sexual orientations and political leanings shop at the store -- or at least they did. 

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



Now, the National Black Farmers Association is calling on Tractor Supply’s president and CEO Hal Lawton to step down.

“Boyd said Tractor Supply stores can be found where much of NBFA’s 130,000 members are located,” per the AP. "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.”

If the majority of current TSC customers are conservatives, the company eliminated in one fell swoop the very customer base it needs to grow. 

“This is one of the most extreme examples yet of the DEI backlash that is sweeping through corporate America,” writes Bloomberg columnist Beth Kowitt. “Plenty of companies have slashed their DEI departments and erased or tweaked corporate language about inclusivity. But most have done so quietly in order to avoid publicizing their spinelessness and hypocrisy. Few have put out statements like Tractor Supply’s, which seems to celebrate the betrayal of causes that the company once claimed were important. Tractor Supply is now sending a very different and clear message about the customers it prioritizes and wants in its stores.”

The company’s executives have said that its customers tend to skew more conservative.

"But to borrow a line from Michael Jordan, Democrats buy farming supplies, too,” Kowitt writes. “During the pandemic, Tractor Supply boomed thanks to urban dwellers fleeing cities for dreams of rural living replete with backyard chickens and firepits. As Fortune reported in 2021, Wappingers Falls, 75 miles north of New York City in Dutchess County, is viewed by the company as a textbook Tractor Supply town. Executives might want to note that it also voted Democratic in the last four presidential elections.”

Really, fighting climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue, writes journalist, historian and author David Perry in an opinion piece on CNN, adding that he he threw his TSC hat in the trash after reading the company’s statement last week. 

“It’s possible that TSC has calculated that it can’t please everyone, that most of its customers are White conservatives or sympathize with that viewpoint — and so to hell with the rest of us,” Perry writes. “But I’ve been a loyal customer. … All around me on this holiday weekend (I’m spending the week in the woods), I see products I purchased from a store that has told me — loudly — that it doesn’t see me as a valuable customer. Message received.”

3 comments about "Tractor Supply Faces Pushback, Calls For CEO Resignation".
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  1. Jeff B from 362 Consulting, July 5, 2024 at 8:26 a.m.

    Does this mean I'll only get to buy my chicken wire from white people? 

  2. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, July 5, 2024 at 6:14 p.m.

    Nothing in either of the wildly unbalanced and poorly reported Mediapost stories about Tractor Supply seeing it's stock crash after announcing its DEI initiatives, then rebounding after they dropped it. O well. R.I.P. 

  3. Tanya Gazdik from MediaPost replied, July 6, 2024 at 12:26 p.m.

    Hey Tom, thanks for reading. I'm not sure what you are referencing. I just checked Motley Fool and the TSC common stick price has actually dropped $5 a share since the anti-DEI announcement, $262.53 on July 5 vs. $267.55 on June 27. 

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