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Judge orders mediation in lawsuit between black farmers and seed company

A group of black farmers who filed suit against a seed company pose outside a federal courthouse in Memphis. (photo Patricia Rogers)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal judge on Thursday ordered mediation between a group of black farmers and a seed company they said targeted them and sold them bad soybean seed.

U. S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. gave the parties until March 15 to reach a settlement in a class action lawsuit filed by the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association alleging Stine Seed Company sold fake seed to black farmers from Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi on purpose.

The lawsuit came after a bad year for the soybean crop that nearly put some farmers out of business.

The group thinks Stine Seed Company targeted the farmers at the annual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show held in Memphis.

“These allegations are serious,” Fowlkes said. “These farmers are experienced in farming. The parties need to sit down and talk and reach a settlement.”

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