In December, when President Barack Obama signed the “Claims Resolution Act of 2010,” which appropriated $1.15 billion to black farmers who said the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against them, many thought the matter had been laid to rest.
Dr. John W. Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, has a message for America though: The black farmers need more — especially as they initially sought $2.5 billion.
Boyd appeared at the National Press Club Tuesday to say his fight is far from over.
“We contributed to this country,” Boyd declared. “The black farmers been wronged in this country and if anybody here today is confused about that, I want to shed a little clarity on that.”
Boyd fears that the claims process will result in many farmers who deserve government money being “left out in the cold,” especially as so many have come out alleging fraud on the part of those seeking settlement money. Indeed, USDA employees and FBI officials estimate that the number of fraudulent claims ranges from 50 to 95 percent. Boyd takes issue with those statistics, though.
“So when I read the reports talking about, ‘There are no black farmers’ — people, you confused,” Boyd said. “You know what we were doing in this country in the first place? Every black person in this country is over one or two generations from somebody’s farm … So when I hear of reports about, ‘Where are all these black farmers comin’ from?’ Hell, you brought them here, you brought them here and after we were free you didn’t know what to do with us.”
In sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Boyd estimated the number of America’s black farmers at 18,000. However, more than 94,000 individuals have filed claims.
Despite the high number of claimants Boyd says there is no fraud in the system as the law contains “anti-fraud provisions.”
“It looks like anything that has to do with blacks in this country there is always double and triple standard, I don’t know the reason for that, but that just seems to be the case,” Boyd said. “You hear people talking about all this fraud. We put anti-fraud provisions.”
Black farmers have yet to get their cases heard. According to Boyd each will be presented before an independent arbitrator.
“At the end of the day those who prevail prevail those who are denied will be denied,” he said.