Several businesses and distributors have cut ties with an apple farmer in West Michigan after a racist tirade was caught on video, prompting local outrage and a criminal charge of assault.
Travis Schoenborn, 31, the son of longtime orchard owner David Schoenborn, spit on a migrant worker after calling him racist slurs and humiliating him in front of his coworkers.
“F—ing n—–, okay,” one of the clips begins. “A loud-mouth f—ing n—–, right there. A punk motherf—er. That’s what that is.”
Riveridge Produce Marketing, an apple distributor, released the following statement:
“(We) are outraged by the abusive words and racist attitudes displayed in the video. This is not who we are as a company, and is in no way representative of the larger community of growers in West Michigan. The following morning (after the story aired), we severed our relationship with EDS effective immediately. We value inclusion for all and will continue working toward creating additional two-way communication with all of our employees, packers and growers and our migrant staff who deserve the same respect and dignity and play a vital role in our community,” Taylor wrote in the statement.
Another cider company says they were appalled and immediately cut ties with the apple grower. Another major supermarket chain said that their supplier had cut ties with the farm.
EDS Schoenborn’s statement focused on an apology, and said that Travis had been removed from any managerial role:
“We are a multi-generation farm and are a very simple family. We have had a longtime positive relationship with most of our domestic and non-domestic migrant workers and many of them return to our farm every year. The simple truth is that we depend on our workers and could not go on without them. It is important for our neighbors and community to know that my son is very sorry for his hurtful statements. That was not his true self and there are no excuses for these words and they reveal areas that he needs to work on.
“These horrible words are not who we are. As farmers, we need one another, and we work side-by-side with people of all backgrounds. Our farm tries to meet the highest standards at all times. It’s what keeps many of our employees, who have options, coming back every year. We pay our employees, depending on experience, as much as 18 to 20 dollars per hour. New workers start at around $10 per hour with a bonus.
“We have removed our son from any managerial role at the farm. We continue to respect all in our industry who are trying so hard to protect the American farmer.
“We have tried to build our lives around faith, farming and family. We hope that the community will not use this one moment to define us.“