… John Wesley Boyd Jr. is a man skilled in making waves… recently, Mr. Boyd helped champion the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, introduced in Congress by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. The legislation provides $5 billion in debt relief, technical assistance and grants to farmers of color during the pandemic. It became part of the $1.9 trillion federal spending package known as the American Rescue Plan… Black farmers have lost millions of acres of farmland in part because of long-term discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

 

 

Personality: John W. Boyd Jr.

Spotlight on founder-president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA)

 

Richmond Free Press (VA)

4/1/2021

 

John Wesley Boyd Jr. is a man skilled in making waves, from the acres of crops in his fields to the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.

 

A fourth-generation farmer, Mr. Boyd is the founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association. The Mecklenburg County resident has been at the forefront of advancing the rights of minority farmers in a country and industry reluctant to acknowledge the struggles and discrimination they have faced.

 

Most recently, Mr. Boyd helped champion the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, introduced in Congress by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. The legislation provides $5 billion in debt relief, technical assistance and grants to farmers of color during the pandemic. It became part of the $1.9 trillion federal spending package known as the American Rescue Plan passed by the Congress and signed into law in mid-March by President Biden.

 

The measure was hailed by Democrats as vital to addressing historic inequalities faced by Black farmers, in particular, for decades.

 

Concentrated in the South, Black farmers have lost millions of acres of farmland in part because of long-term discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those practices, in which the USDA denied Black farmers loans and other assistance, led to class action lawsuits known as the Pigford cases dating to 1997. The lawsuits resulted in two settlements totaling more than $2 billion in payouts to Black farmers across the nation, the latest in 2010.

 

Mr. Boyd, representing the NBFA, was front and center in getting Congress to recognize the discrimination by the federal agency and to push for redress.

 

He drove his wagon, pulled by his mules 40 Acres and Struggle, from Mecklenburg County to Washington to bring attention to the issues and legislation that provided the settlement money to Black farmers and another $3.4 billion to Native Americans.

 

Now, at a time during which COVID-19 has compounded the challenges facing minority farmers, Mr. Boyd is looking to ensure support for Black farmers and the future of Black people on their own land.

 

“The land knows no color,” Mr. Boyd says. “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.”

 

Mr. Boyd’s work with the NBFA, a nonprofit organization, continues to educate the African-American community through outreach and others across the country as he continues to push for racial equity in farming.

 

His primary project now is...

 

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