support family farmers, support Farm Aid.
support family farmers, support Farm Aid.
As always, Farm Aid will continue to engage you in opportunities to challenge the corporate power that has a stranglehold over our food and farm system, and opportunities to advance a more just agriculture that benefits everyone.
Farmer Hero, Alvina Maynard, of River Hill Ranch in Richmond, KY
We know our community is filled with people who have meaningful connections with farmers. We’d love to hear about a farmer you know who deserves to be celebrated.
Our accomplishments in 2016
Thanks for being a partner in the work to grow a family farm food system! From connecting farmers with policymakers through our Farmer Leadership Grants, to creating a Farm to School Rocks guide to inspire engagement in the budding Farm to School movement, to our incredible Bristow, Virginia, concert, we had a meaningful year here at Farm Aid.
Here’s a look back. In 2016 we:
[Thank you, Phil Weisman, for sharing this clipping about Farm Aid III.]
September 21, 1987
LINCOLN, Neb. Fleeting remarks and lasting impressions from a full day at Saturday’s Farm Aid.
Most valuable players through out the evening’s part of the program were the members of John Cougar Mellencamp’s red-hot band. After providing hard edge accompaniment for Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” they gave John Prine the sort of rough-hewn, roots-rock backing that he’s been missing since he quit working with Chicago’s Famous Potatoes.
The closing set by Mellencamp and band was one of the event’s most rousing. On “Small Town” and “Pink House” the accordion and fiddle of his band’s expanded lineup fit just fine with the rock n’ roll rhythm section. The two-song set, way too short for most of the crowd, provided a taste of what wil likely be one of the fall’s strongest tours.
While Willie Nelson received most of the credit throughout the day, and deservedly so, Mellencamp has also been a driving force behind Farm Aid during its three-year existence. Both Reed and the Crusados thanked him specifically for enlisting their participation.
The most inspired music that was heard by no one at home came courtesy of Neil Young. “Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for coke,” he sang. “Ain’t singing for nobody, it makes me look like a joke. This note’s for you.” While Young slammed corporate sponsorship, the broadcast had cut to another commercial.
David Alvin has the distinction of being the only performer to play each of the three Farm Aids, as part of a completely different band. He was with the Blasters at the first Farm Aid, a member o X at the second and the leader of his own band, the Allnighters at Farm Aid III.
The man who was formerly known as a songwriter and guitarist demonstrated that he had already become a far more confident singer than when he cut “Romen’s Escape,” his recently released debut album as a solo artist. His afternoon set, mixing country ballads and hard-rock ravers, was one of the event’s highlights.
Dennis Hopper, who was raised on a Kansas farm, introduced country singer Lynn Anderson to the crowd as an “easy rider,” who offered to share her bus with other performers who needed a ride to Lincoln.
He later told the TV audience, “Big companies are interested in big profits. Period.” an economic analysis that was sure to endear him to corporate America. “Who would you rather see own America?” he asked.
Events such as this inevitably produce a rash of Bruce Springsteen rumors. The day before the concert, the talk of the town was dominated by eyewitness accounts of Springsteen and Nelson enjoying dinner at a Lincoln country club. It never happened, according to officials at the country club.
by: Carolyn Muldar
Many kind people have donated to Farm Aid this year – and that’s crucial because we rely on the generosity of people like you to do the hard work to keep family farmers strong. People often share with us why they believe in Farm Aid’s work. This message really resonates with me:
I have been a supporter of Farm Aid for quite some time, and I have been to countless Farm Aid concerts. There is so much genuine dedication within this organization, and I am proud to be part of it! – Ginna
When I joined Farm Aid in 1985, I didn’t have a background in farming. But like Ginna, I could see the dedication of Willie, John and Neil, and all the farmers who were working to save their farms and their neighbors’ farms. That commitment to family farmers has always inspired me. I am proud of our hard work.
This year, with your help, Farm Aid:
All of this extraordinary work makes a real difference in the lives of farm families, and all of us who eat. Farm Aid can’t do this work without you.
When we strengthen family farmers, we are all stronger.
You and I have depended on family farmers all our lives. They fill our plate three times each day, they strengthen our local economy, and they are the backbone of our communities.
For 31 years, the annual Farm Aid concert has been a way for all of us to honor family farmers and the role they play in a strong America. On the Farm Aid 2016 stage, farmers from Virginia and Washington, D.C., told their stories of struggle and success.
Listening to these farmers and activists on stage, my friend John Mellencamp said that he’s never felt so inspired in all our years of doing this work. I felt that way, too. That’s why I wanted to share these stories with you.
Together you and I:
Farm Aid’s work to strengthen family farmers benefits all of us. Family farmers put good food on our tables. They protect our soil and water. And they support our communities. If we want good food, we need family farmers!
Stay strong and positive,
by Neil Young
When Abraham Lincoln formed the US Department of Agriculture in 1862 he referred to it as the “People’s Department” because it served the common interest of so many Americans. America’s concerns about food and the economy were addressed and investments in cutting-edge research guaranteed the nation’s food security.
In the 1980s, American farmers found themselves in a fight for their lives. Low prices for farm products, plummeting land values, rising interest rates, and skyrocketing production costs overloaded farmers with crashing debts that forced tens of thousands to lose their land. In response, the Credit Act of 1987 freed up credit for farmers and allowed for loan restructuring so farmers could honor their debt. Farmers were able to stay on their land and create a thriving network of local and regional food systems that provides jobs and food for their neighbors today.
Yet again farmers are faced with seemingly insurmountable financial hardship. The credit farmers need in order to pay for their seasonal start-up costs is tight, like credit is for the rest of the country. Instability in market prices and threats from weather-related disasters make it hard for banks to guarantee their investment, discouraging lending and encouraging high interest. At the same time, rising operating costs and declining prices for their products are making it nearly impossible for farmers to keep up with their debt. Many farmers have to put their homes up as security on their farm loans, which means if they fall behind on their farm loan payments they can lose their businesses and their homes.
The USDA, with help from other agencies, should restore fair credit, prices, and practices for family farmers. As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack makes plans to implement the 2008 Farm Bill, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would be well served to consider lessons from the 1980s and extend loan protections under the federal bailout to family farmers, preventing home foreclosures and bankruptcy among farmers and ranchers. As a condition of receiving any federal government funds, Treasury needs to require banks providing farm credit to restructure loans when farmers are unable to make payments due to circumstances beyond their control, such as market- and weather-related disasters. Requiring no additional funding, this simple action would prevent thousands of farmers from joining the ranks of the jobless and homeless while guaranteeing a safe, secure food supply and creating local job opportunities.
Vilsack can also act quickly to get funds to farmers who need it most. Farmers who were hit hard by disasters in 2007 and 2008 still have not received the funding available in Farm Bill disaster relief programs. And the USDA needs to get the word out fast about additional funding for direct operating loans that Congress included in the stimulus bill. If farmers are having trouble accessing the credit they need for this year’s growing season, the Farm Service Agency might just be able to help. Swift implementation of already enacted legislation can mean the difference between losing more farmers and keeping those farmers on the land.
Family farmers are a national resource with the potential to help solve the challenges we currently face. The agriculture sector is projected to have contributed more than $130 billion to the US economy in 2008. The hard work of family farmers is strengthening local economies, reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, protecting natural resources, and increasing national security. The United States is re-laying the groundwork of its economic stability, and family farmers are the key to a strong foundation.
Neil Young, along with Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews, is a board member of Farm Aid (farmaid.org).
Jack Johnson performs “Willie Got Me Stoned and Stole All My Money” at Farm Aid’s 30th anniversary concert at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on September 19
by: Will Hodge
It’s understandable to think that Jack Johnson might’ve been a little nervous before his afternoon set at Farm Aid 30 this past weekend. After all, it’s been almost a year since the last time he and his band have played a show together, and it’s been two years since he last played Farm Aid. But speaking with Rolling Stone Country a few hours before taking the stage, the relaxed surfer-turned-musician seemed none too worried.
“We don’t do sound checks too much,” said Johnson, sitting comfortably among the packed-in gear of his makeshift rehearsal room. “We just come together an hour or so beforehand and try new things and figure out what we’re going to do.”
This doesn’t mean that the singer-songwriter and his rock-solid backing trio (Zach Gill, Merlo Podlewski, and Adam Topol) weren’t taking the gig seriously. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Johnson, who is already known for mixing music with altruism throughout his own career by starting the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation in 2008 and by donating 100 percent of his 2010-2013 tour profits to charity, sees Farm Aid as an important opportunity to raise awareness and to engage with the struggle of family-owned farms.
“I know so many people that, if they could only go to one show a year, they’d choose Farm Aid,” he said. “And that goes for me too.”
To commemorate this year’s Farm Aid festivities, Johnson wrote a new song that could not have been more tailor-made for the event. “Willie Got Me Stoned and Took All My Money” is a playful, barroom piano-led ditty retelling a night of cards-and-cannabis with Willie Nelson, Farm Aid’s founder and president. The inspiration for the song came to him while reading Nelson’s biography, It’s a Long Story,and he came across the mention of Harlan Howard’s “three chords and the truth” songwriting mantra. Introducing the new tune at Farm Aid, Johnson told the crowd, “This next song has got three chords in it, and it might be a little too honest.”
Although brand-new songs can often land flat during a live debut, the Farm Aid audience was immediately and enthusiastically on board from the first few lines:
Willie got me stoned and took all my money
I was 50 dollars up and then my mind went funny
It didn’t really help that I didn’t know the rules of the game
And it probably didn’t help that I couldn’t remember my name
Between Johnson’s new song and Toby Keith’s classic “Weed with Willie,” it seems that cautionary tales of the country legend’s marijuana are in high demand.
Today we announced Farm Aid’s 2016 grant recipients. Here’s Willie Nelson signing each of the grant checks before they go out in the mail!
Willie says, “Farm Aid is proud to make grants to support so many good people engaged in the work of changing our food system. The real power of Farm Aid’s grants is in the network of changemakers they knit together, in cities and rural areas across this country.”
$556,315 was granted to 82 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Grants ranged from $5,000 to $20,000.
To read more about our amazing grantees and the inspiring work they do, check out https://www.farmaid.org/our-work/grants/
Wilie Nelson and Mary Pat Davis perform “Walkin’ After Midnight” originally by Patsy Cline at Farm Aid VI in Ames, Iowa, on April 24, 1993.