John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association discussed the plight of Black farmers during a recent interview on CBS News. Boyd described the dwindling numbers of Black farmers and the discrimination that Black farmers have experienced. Prior to 1920 there were more than a million Black farmers in America. Today, there are less than 45,000 Black farmers according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Black farmers own a mere 2 percent of America’s farmland according to a CBS News report. By comparison, 98 percent of U.S. farmers are white.
Boyd shared with CBS News some of the discriminatory conditions that Black farmers have been subjected to. He described how loans to Black farmers took more than 300 days to process, while White farmers loans were processed in about 30 days. Black farmers have been denied access or delayed subsidy relief and other wealth building programs that would assist in keeping their farms operational. In 1999 John Boyd and other Black farmers won the landmark lawsuit Pigford v Glickman agaisnt the USDA for denying loans and other support to Black farmers according to theguardian.com
John Boyd and other Black farmers expressed initial disappointment to Tom Vilsack’s nomination to return to USDA. When Vilsack lead USDA during the Obama Administration the agency faced numerous discrimination claims involving Black, Hispanic, Indian and females farmers. Black farm groups criticized Vilsack for doing too little to eliminate discrimination against Black farmers.
The “Justice For Black Farmers legislation” introduced by Democratic Senators Booker, Warren and Gillibrand is intended to establish policies to bring an end to Black farmers discrimination by the USDA. If inacted, the legislation promises to restore lands lost by Black farmers. Boyd and others Black Farmers hope it will be inacted to protect current Black farmers from losing their land and provide land grants for a new generation of Black farmers.