Besieged Tractor Supply Co. retreats from DEI, ‘woke’ causes with stunning apology after stock plummets

One of America’s largest agricultural retailers has scrapped its support for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, including sponsorship of gay pride festivals and carbon emission…

One of America’s largest agricultural retailers has scrapped its support for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, including sponsorship of gay pride festivals and carbon emission goals. 

Tractor Supply Co. issued a June 27 statement after customers revolted over the company’s full-throated participation in “woke” governance policies in such issues as as DEI, global warming and LGBTQ.

Public backlash to the policies reportedly cost the company $2 billion in market capitalization.

“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. Going forward, we will ensure our activities and giving tie directly to our business,” the company statement reads.

The company notes it won’t be sharing data with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which compiles self-reported data into LGBTQ equality scores for corporate participants.   

HRC had Tractor Supply perfectly scored in three of the four categories for LGBTQ.  

In addition, the Tractor Supply Co. statement said it will:  

  • Refocus our Team Member Engagement Groups on mentoring, networking and supporting the business 
  • Further focus on rural America priorities including ag education, animal welfare, veteran causes and being a good neighbor and stop sponsoring nonbusiness activities like pride festivals and voting campaigns 
  • Eliminate DEI roles and retire our current DEI goals while still ensuring a respectful environment 
  • Withdraw our carbon emission goals and focus on our land and water conservation efforts  

The complete U-turn comes after Substack journalist Robby Starbuck exposed the company’s “woke” policies under CEO Hal Lawton. Starbuck alleged Lawton enjoyed “attacking” people who were unvaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.  

Lawton has subsequently made his X social media account private.  

In a private email to employees posted by Starbuck, Lawton acknowledged the company had “veered off course” and no longer reflected the values of their agricultural customers. 

In the company statement included in the email, Lawton pledged Tractor Supply would now focus on “our customers and Team Members.”  

“Your trust and confidence in us are of the utmost importance, and we don’t take that lightly,” the statement reads.  

The company also highlighted its contributions to traditional rural causes such as Future Farmers of America, 4-H, veterans’ causes, emergency response, animal shelters, state fairs, rodeos and farmers markets.  

X users were quick to applaud the company for its about-face and apology.  

“Well done. Thank you, Tractor Supply. I will be doing more business with you in the future,” tweeted Christopher F. Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.  

“Thank you,” Georgia U.S. Rep. Mike Collins said simply.   

Meanwhile, at least one prominent conservative watchdog was effusive in praising Starbuck and X owner Elon Musk for successfully leading a boycott that got Tractor Supply to change its policies. 

“Wow. Incredible. All thanks to @robbystarbuck and free speech on X. We will get rid of DEI one company at a time,” wrote Libs of TikTok.   

Still, some customers are watching the company warily, even as they’re grateful for the change.  

“I’ll take the win,” posted one customer. “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. Focus on the betterment of actual policies that work and implement them. I’m a firm believer in supporting our agricultural community and [I] like that you added veterans in here. We are watching.” 

Tractor Supply will take the win too, more than likely. And to keep the wins coming, the company ended its statement with some Independence Day cheer and Trumpian rhetoric.  

“As we look forward to celebrating our nation’s independence, we also celebrate our more than 50,000 team members across 2,250 stores. Rural communities are the backbone of our nation and what make America great. We are honored to be a part of them.”