The Shifting Sob Stories of “Dr.” John Wesley Boyd

During this courtroom rant at the September 1st Fairness Hearing for the Pigford II lawsuit, Boyd told one of his favorite stories about how he denied a farm loan when an official ripped up his application and spit on him.

I call bull shitake.

For one thing, the overdramatic story Boyd tells isn’t how the USDA did their discrimination, generally. It was a lot more subtle than rip and spit – and given Boyd’s recent far-fetched claim of forty death threats (from my readers, most likely) it’s most likely that the Boyd Who Cried Wolf just made it up because it sounds better.

Here’s a few different versions of the story from over the years. Things change.

Here’s the story from the Washington Post…

His voice carried traces of bitterness, the product of years of heartache that he said began in 1994, when he was 28 and his farm was nearing foreclosure. Year after year, he had been applying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for operating loans. Year after year, the applications were denied or delayed. Now a white farm service loan officer was tearing up Boyd’s application in his face and cursing at him, and Boyd was cursing back.

"What is it about me that doesn’t qualify?" he demanded, and then he went home to tell his wife that again there would be no loan to plant crops. They argued about the farm and their debts. Boyd told her he refused to let the farm go. The small towns around South Hill are as far back as Boyd can trace his family line. His father was raised on a farm with 12 brothers and sisters. His grandfather Thomas was a farmer. His great-grandfather was born a slave on the Boyd plantation, just outside of South Hill.

Soon after the argument, Boyd’s marriage fell apart, his ex-wife moved his only son off the farm to Richmond, and the government began the process of seizing Boyd’s land. A USDA employee drove a "For Sale" sign in his yard. Boyd took his chain saw and sliced the sign in half, but his anger didn’t make the foreclosure any less threatening.

"That was the first time in my life that I actually felt helpless," Boyd said. "It’s really worse than a fistfight, because in a fistfight I can get a few licks in."

Salon tells it this way…

What happened between you and the USDA loan officer in Richmond?

Mr. Garnett had made 147 farm loans in Mecklenburg County, Va. Only one of those loans was to a black farmer, and he was the minority advisor to the USDA county committee. When they investigated Mr. Garnett, they asked him, "Do you have a problem making black farm loans?" Guess what he said? He said yes. He said yes, I think that they’re lazy, and they’re just looking for a paycheck every Friday.

Mr. Garnett took my loan application and tore it up and threw it in the trash can while I was sitting there in front of him. And he said he wasn’t going to lend me any of his money. When I asked him why he wasn’t going to make the loan, he said, "Well, I don’t have any money now. If you want to come back again next year, that’s up to you, but I think you need to go ahead and just sell your farm. I’ve got a farmer, Mr. Blaylock, and you can milk cows on his farm. I think that would be the best opportunity for you and your family."

I was mad. I was looking for a $10,000 operating loan to plant my crop. After nine years in a row I’d only gotten one loan from the USDA farm services, and I would apply every year.

I said, "Mr. Garnett, I don’t think I can go back and tell my wife that I’m not going to get an operating loan again." And he said he didn’t care. And when he said he didn’t care, I told him to go to hell in a handbasket, and he began to use profanity, and he spit tobacco on my shirt.

When the investigator asked him, "Did you spit chewing tobacco on John Boyd’s shirt?" He said, "Well, yeah." He claimed he accidentally missed his spit can.

When was this?

This was in 1994.

Here’s NPR…

Boyd traveled from his farm in Virginia’s Mecklenburg County to the Capitol to lobby Congress. In 1994, he was denied loans by a USDA agent in Richmond, Va., by the name of James Garnett.

"He was found guilty of discrimination, and he kept his job," Boyd said. "When I watched that thing with Miss Sherrod on television, I said, ‘Look how fast they got rid of her when the allegation was her discriminating against a white farmer.’ And when Mr. Garnett spit on me, tore my application up … nothing happened.

Nothing happened? Really? Nothing.

I guess “Dr.” John Boyd forgot about the  million dollars he got. Seems like a lot of nothing. More on that later.

Here’s Pete Hardin…this article is from May 30, 1999

It’s almost a decade since Boyd was a 24-year-old farmer who wanted to expand his operation by raising hogs. A white county Farmers Home Administration official tore his loan application in half and flicked it in the wastebasket.

” ‘This is too big an operation for a boy your age,’*” Boyd said he was told. Regarding a loan for repairs to Boyd’s home, the official suggested it would be cheaper to consider subsidized housing in South Hill.

Boyd kept struggling to make ends meet. There were other failed loan applications. He fell behind in payments and eventually declared bankruptcy while pursuing discrimination complaints against the government.

In 1996, the government moved to foreclose, and a large sign about an auction was put up in his yard. Boyd got out his power saw. He cut down the sign. Finally, in May 1997, the USDA settled with Boyd over a tangle of blatant government discrimination.


He attended Southside Virginia Community College.

In 1985, he bought a rundown farm near South Hill with a loan approval from the Farmers Home Administration, then the credit agency of the USDA. He later received loans to build a poultry house and start a poultry operation.

But there were travails at farming and at other points with the FmHA. Some applications were ignored or delayed past planting time. He complained to the government, saying white farmers weren’t getting the same mistreatment.

A USDA finding late in 1996 said Boyd suffered “egregious failures of service delivery” in 1992 and 1994. His complaint alleging earlier discrimination was determined to have come too late.


Meanwhile, Boyd is personally seeking a second settlement from the USDA for discrimination. He wants to take advantage of Congress’ having liberalized the time period for which black farmers can seek compensation over discrimination claims.

His National Black Farmers Association has received a $ 500,000 USDA outreach grant, and, with it, Boyd is working to help black farmers seek USDA benefits and to qualify for compensation under the federal court settlement.

I know that’s a lot to take in, but let’s play spot the difference. There are a lot of them. Take a simple example – how many loans did John Boyd get? He’s quoted directly as telling Salon…

I was mad. I was looking for a $10,000 operating loan to plant my crop. After nine years in a row I’d only gotten one loan from the USDA farm services, and I would apply every year.

But Hardin mentions at least three – including the one he used to start the farm.

In 1985, he bought a rundown farm near South Hill with a loan approval from the Farmers Home Administration, then the credit agency of the USDA. He later received loans to build a poultry house and start a poultry operation.

And so it goes – in one story, Boyd tells the Virginia USDA official who allegedly denied him a loan to go to hell, then the USDA responds by cursing – in another, the USDA just starts cursing. Boyd doesn’t mention the $500,000 settlement he got before Pigford was settled….nor the OTHER $500,000 he got working WITH the USDA. That’s a cool million for a guy who was trying to get $10,000 loans. And what’s up with that chainsaw thing? Again – Boyd is a Drama Queen.

Boyd’s story most likely shifts because he’s a proven liar. How many contradictions can YOU find?


  1. Would love to know how many times Boyd defaulted and was late on loans prior to 1994

    From his own Bio–

    In the late 80’s, John applied, as many famers [sic] do, for a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He recalled watching his loan application get tossed into a trash can during an interview with a USDA official. After trying for multiple years to obtain a loan, he decided to fight back. Boyd filed a discrimination complaint through his local civil rights office. The money he needed to keep his farm alive was not forthcoming, his applications for other forms of farm assistance were disregarded, and routine inquiries about his loan balances and payment schedules went unanswered. Boyd spent the next several years relying on financial help from family members. His finances eventually spiraled out of control, he lost his poultry contract, and he was forced to declare bankruptcy.

  2. Good find — bunch of differences. What a tangled web.

  3. Good Work



  1. “Dr.” John Boyd’s Bizarre Pigford Testimony - [...] the end part of “Dr.’ John Boyd’s testimony. I described it in a blog post a few weeks ago…

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