Is Tractor Supply 'Woke'? Controversy & Boycott Calls Explained

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Tractor Supply store exterior

Tractor Supply is facing controversy and calls for a boycott over its supposed "woke" agenda, diversity, and inclusive hiring policies.

Founded in 1938, Tractor Supply has 2200 stores across the U.S. and over 46,000 employees across 49 states. The American retail giant is known for selling home, garden, land, and animal-related products.

Tractor Supply's 'Woke' Controversy Explained

Right-wing activist Robby Starbuck lashed out at Tractor Supply and CEO Hal Lawton in a viral post on X (formerly Twitter), which has over 2.7 million views. Starbuck criticized the company for having customers' "hard-earned money spent on these woke priorities" such as LGBTQIA+ and related DEI initiatives:

  • "LGBTQIA+ training for employees
  • Funding pride/drag events
  • They have a DEI Council
  • Funding sex changes
  • Climate change activism
  • Pride month decorations in the office
  • DEI hiring practices
  • LGBTQIA+ events at work"

In a follow-up post, Starbuck shared a quote from one of Tractor Supply's yearly reports which discussed its $570,000 donation to causes supporting the disabled, minorities, and LGBTQIA+ groups in 2021:

"In 2021, Tractor Supply donated more than $570,000 to DE&I causes, benefitting veterans, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+ youth, Hispanic Team Members, women and Black and African Americans."

Starbuck alleged that the vast majority of Tractor Supply's customer base is conservative before sharing images from retail stores coated in LGBTQIA+ flags and other assorted Pride-related decorations. 

The right-wing activist accused Tractor Supply and Hal Lawton of having a "woke" agenda and funding these policies with customers' money. 

Starbuck went on to encourage Tractor Supply shoppers to take their business elsewhere and proposed Lawton instead use some of his reported $11 million salary on these causes as opposed to company money.

The official Tractor Supply corporate website details some of its policies for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Its policies cover four areas - team members, welcoming environments, customers, and communities with a promise in its hiring to "reflect the diversity of [their] communities and customers:"

"Team Members:
Attract, engage, develop & retain Team Members with backgrounds that reflect the diversity of our communities and customers.

Welcoming Environments:
Ensure that the power of our values is experienced every day across our Team Members, customers and the communities we call home.

Know and celebrate our diverse customers and create a welcoming and inclusive experience.

Foster meaningful relationships with diverse community partners and invest in the communities we call home."

According to CEO Action, Tractor Supply offered company-wide DEI training in 2020 to educate employees on "unconscious bias and inclusiveness:"

"Beginning in the 3rd quarter of 2020 we set out on a mission to educate all Team Members on the topics of unconscious bias and inclusiveness. We offered Conscious Inclusion, Instructor Led - Training to our District Managers and all people leaders at our Store Support Center and Distribution Centers... Our Store Managers and all Individual Contributors in the company received an E-learning training on 'The Need for Inclusion.'"

On its official corporate website, Tractor Supply revealed in 2023 how it had been recognized by "two separate entities as a diverse and inclusive workplace." These included qualifying for the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index and being hailed among America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity.

Executive Vice President Melissa Kersey addressed Tractor Supply's DEI recognition in the post, calling the retail giant a "safe, respectful, and inclusive work environment:"

“Our deeply rooted Mission and Values are the foundation of who we are as an organization. They dictate that Tractor Supply prioritize a safe, respectful, and inclusive work environment that values diversity of thought and perspective."

Tractor Supply has developed many policies and programs to support minorities, the disabled, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. These are things many, especially those from conservative or right-wing groups, would consider to be "woke," but are certainly common for businesses in the modern world. 

As Tractor Supply retails to farmers and those from an agricultural background, who are technically more likely to be conservative and against "woke" culture, that may explain the above-average backlash it has received for these policies. 

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.