Who is Dr. John Boyd Jr? 5 Things To Know About Founder Of Black Farmers Association

Who is Dr. John Boyd Jr? 5 Things To Know About Founder Of Black Farmers Association


John W. Boyd Jr. (Photo: The National Black Farmers Association website)

Dr. John Boyd Jr., who has spent decades fighting for the rights of Black farmers, is the founder of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA). A Black farmer himself, he most often advocates and pushes for policies to benefit other Black farmers.

Here are five things to know about the founder of the Black Farmers Association.

1. Founding the NBFA

Dr. Boyd founded the NBFA in February 1995. The association was established to help Black farmers facing foreclosure due to longstanding racial discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NBFA’s mission revolves around advocating for civil rights, land retention, and addressing various issues affecting Black farmers.

The association says it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide and its advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, among other issues.

2. Dedicated farmer and activist

Boyd is a third-generation farmer, born on Sept. 4, 1965, in Baskerville, Virginia. He operates Boyd Farms, spanning 1,500 acres across three farms. He grows soybeans, corn, and wheat and raises beef cattle. He advocates for improving the lives of farmers and eliminating discriminatory practices.

“My father’s a farmer … and I watched him farm. I watched both my grandfathers’ farms. My mother’s father was a sharecropper. So I watched both of them farm, and they taught me how to farm. And I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a farmer.'”‘ I didn’t grow up saying I wanted to be a doctor … a lawyer … a dentist. I actually wanted to farm,” he told NPR.

He continued, stressing that he works for the betterment of the Black farmer.

“First and foremost, I’m always a farmer. But I’m always looking to make farming better. So I’m always looking for creative ways to make it better — to find access to markets for African-American farmers and other small farmers,” he told NPR. “I’m a farmer — I love the land. And if you don’t love the land and you don’t love raising crops, then there’s no way possible that you can be a farmer day in and day out because you’re not going to get rich farming.”

The number of Black farmers continues to dwindle. In 1920, the USDA counted 925,708 Black farmers, or about 14 percent of the total at the time. By 2017, there were 45,508 Black farmers — roughly 1.3 percent of all 3.4 million, according to a recent USDA Census of Agriculture.

3. Boyd and his advocacy

Over the years, Dr. Boyd has held significant leadership roles. He was the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 5th congressional district in 2000, running against the incumbent. Additionally, he has served on agricultural commissions and transition teams, including being appointed by President Bill Clinton and Governor Tim Kaine for various roles related to agriculture, according to his organization’s website.

4. Boyd and the fight for justice for Black farmers

Boyd has been a leading voice in addressing historical discrimination faced by Black farmers. He played a crucial role in securing a $1.15 billion settlement in a landmark lawsuit against the federal government, seeking justice for Black farmers who were unfairly treated and discriminated against.

“Discrimination at USDA against Black Farmers was rampant and severe. The Section 1005 Loan Repayment program was a necessary step towards fixing those harms. To acknowledge and correct racism is not unconstitutional or racist,” said Boyd.

5. Land ownership

Boyd promotes the importance of land ownership and its positive impact on communities. He encourages Black individuals to reconnect with farming, promoting healthier eating habits and fostering a sense of community.

John W. Boyd Jr. (Photo: The National Black Farmers Association website, https://www.blackfarmers.org/about)