John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, is hopping mad. After years spent battling the federal government to compensate African-American farmers against whom the U.S. Agriculture Department admittedly has discriminated, he's now fighting claims made in a New York Times article that the settlement process is rife with fraud.
The article, published on April 25, characterizes the compensation effort as "a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees."
Boyd says the report was a hatchet job and that the writer seemed to have already made up her mind that the settlement process has been a "magnet for fraud." According to Boyd, it's all she wanted to talk about.
"We were butchered up by The New York Times. It really did a hatchet job on the Black farmers issue," Boyd told BET.com. "There's a fraud provision in the settlement and oversight by an inspector general and court oversight. This isn't some sort of government giveaway."
The Times' investigations editor Matt Purdy defended the article in an email to theGrio.com.
"The article makes clear there was ample evidence that the initial settlement proved susceptible to false claims, yet it explicitly states that the extent of the problem is impossible to quantify because the names of claimants are secret," Purdy wrote. "Readers can judge the rigor of the claims process for themselves by clicking on the link with our article that takes them to documents related to a successful claim.”
The response and his own conversation with a Times editor are not cutting it with Boyd.
"The more we prove our case, the more we continue to be questioned by everybody out there. One of the most deserving groups for compensation continues to get the most scrutiny," he said.
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(Photo: Matt McClain for The Washington Post via Getty Images)