Farm Aid helps the farmers

www.motherearthnews.com
by: John Ivanko

Many of America’s family farms are in crisis. Since 1985, Farm Aid has been there with resources, services and other support to keep smaller, more ecologically-minded farming operations growing.

Co-founded by country-music legend Willie Nelson, along with rockers Neil Young and John Mellencamp, with Dave Matthews also now on the Farm Aid Board, the benefit concert Farm Aid is as much a musical extravaganza as it is a testament to the perseverance, hard work and hard-scrabble determination of family farmers across the US and a celebration of what they do: Feed America. Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America.

Who could turn down the chance, in Wisconsin, to listen to John Mellencamp retell the story about Jack and Diane, “two American kids growin’ up in the heartland”? He brought the sold-out crowd of 37,000 riotously to their feet to sing along.

And he wasn’t the only performer to do so. Over the course of the nearly 12-hour benefit concert, some of the best performers and music legends brought standing ovations and cheers. Besides Nelson, Mellencamp, Young and Matthews, the 2019 Farm Aid line-up included such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Margo Price, Jamey Johnson, Tanya Tucker, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Yola, and Jamestown Revival, among many others.

The location of the Farm Aid concert in Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, couldn’t be more fitting. It’s estimated that dairy farms in America’s dairyland are going under at an alarming rate due to depressed milk prices and a host of other factors including destructive weather and farm or trade policies. In 2018, Wisconsin lost 700 dairy farms at a rate of almost 2 per day, according to the USDA. 

A Farm Aid regular, singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson’s commanding performance of “In Color” and his own version of Wood Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” captivated the audience. For more than 30 years, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists like Johnson who contribute their performances each year, has raised $57 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

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