A Washington farmer with ties to the St. Louis-area restaurant community has lost business after sharing a racist image on Facebook.
Todd Geisert, who operates a pig farm just outside the Washington city limits, is being heavily criticized for sharing a meme on his personal Facebook account comparing farmers to vandals.
The post featured two pictures — one of white farmers loading hay bales and one of black men vandalizing a store during a riot. The picture with the farmers was captioned “If they did this during the day.” The other picture said “They wouldn’t do this at night.”
In addition to farming, he operates a roadside market and also supplies food to several restaurants. Geisert told The Missourian Thursday his restaurant and retail orders have all been canceled this week. He said about a dozen businesses have pulled out.
Geisert said the image was “taken totally out of context.” He said he doesn’t consider himself a racist, but admitted the image probably should not have been shared.
“Looking back at it, with everything that’s going on, it was probably the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Geisert apologized to anyone offended by the image. He also addresses the post on his farm’s Facebook page.
“I had no intentions to post anything racist,” the post said. “I did not see this as racist. What I saw was that as a farmer, I work many hours a day a especially during hay seasons. When I get home at night, like most farmers, I hit the bed. I have removed the post and hope that my viewers see that there was no intent to be malicious. I seek your forgiveness in an error of judgement.”
The image was originally posted on a Facebook page called “2nd Amendment Americans” and shared by Geisert on his personal page Wednesday, June 2. The image has since been removed.
After speaking with The Missourian Thursday, Geisert posted an updated statement on his farm Facebook page.
“I know that I was ignorant to the fact that the meme was racist,” he wrote. “My intent and the impact of what I posted could not be further from each other. At the time I simply saw it as a commentary on how hard a family farmer works. I see now that I was wrong. I am sorry and I want to do better.”
Geisert said he will be working with Neighbors United - Undoing Racism and is committed to learning and doing a self-examination.
Several St. Louis chefs announced they would no longer be working with Geisert after screenshots of Geisert’s post were shared on social media, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Geisert’s website featured a section detailing places to buy his products. One of the businesses listed was Bailey’s Range in downtown St. Louis. In a post on Facebook, the restaurant announced Thursday it was no longer working with Geisert.
“We have immediately stopped doing business with Todd Geisert,” the post said. “It hurts a lot to find out that someone that you have been supporting and promoting for years has racism in their heart and would post something so hurtful.”
Local Harvest Grocery, St. Louis, also said it was suspending orders from Geisert.
Geisert’s website no longer has any restaurants listed under the “Where to Buy” section.
Other restaurants joined in condemning Geisert. Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine, Ellisville, said they were “saddened” by the post.
“It is difficult to understand how he could interact with the St. Louis’ independent restaurant community for this many years and think this was not going to be heard and seen for what it is,” a post on Facebook said. “It is heartbreaking that someone we have been proud to support for many years fundamentally does not understand his customer base, is tonedeaf to what is going on in our country right now and perhaps most depressing, does not recognize his fellow man.”