Posts Tagged ‘Farm Aid’

Help Keep Family Farmers on the Farm in North Dakota — vote against Measure 1

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

by:  Willie Nelson and Sarah Vogel

BISMARCK—Each year in nearly every part of the country, swaths of farmland are turned over as yet another family farm is pushed out by tightening profit margins, rigged markets and the ever-constricting power of a few corporations.

In a year of falling farm prices, the fight to keep family farmers on the land is as urgent as ever.

Why fight for family farmers? Because family farmers are stewards of the land, key threads in the fabric of our rural communities and local economies. They support us in ways that can’t be done by distant corporations that are looking out first and foremost for their own bottom line.

North Dakota is unique in its commitment to family farm agriculture. For 84 years, that commitment has been enshrined in a state law affirming that our land belongs in the hands of people, and that farming should stay in the family—not corporations.

Measure 1 attacks that commitment and the very soul of North Dakota.

Efforts to undo long-standing laws such as North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming law are about increasing corporate profits and the control of corporations over our farm and food system. It’s about hastening farm consolidation and squeezing every profit possible out of the soil, water, animals and people of rural America in order to fill Wall Street’s coffers.

It is yet another step in a long push to remove family farms from the American landscape.

Similar measures have cropped up in states across the country, and North Dakotans are rightly asking who is behind initiatives such as Measure 1 — and who profits from them. One can find a few clues in the case of Missouri.

In 2013, Missouri state legislators—spurred by hefty donations from the meatpacking giant Smithfield Foods—dissolved the state’s long-held law banning foreign corporations from owning Missouri land. This happened at the same time as Smithfield’s buyout by Hong Kong-based Shuanghui International.

Today, the Chinese-based company legally owns 42,000 acres of farmland in Missouri, which are being used for mega-industrial confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and processing facilities.

These corporate-backed measures ultimately pit people against each other. They roll back the ability of local communities to determine what’s best for them. They grant corporate interests the right to extract wealth from local communities, with little regard for the quality of life, the caliber of jobs or the health of the soil and water upon which local people depend.

Citizens are told that their long-held values are getting in the way of progress, or that the family farm is obsolete. But the truth is just the opposite: Corporate farming is destroying our present; the family farm is our future.

On June 14, Herald readers’ “No” votes will protect North Dakota’s proud legacy of family farm agriculture. It’s a legacy worth preserving.

Singer, songwriter, actor and activist Nelson is president of Farm Aid, In 1989, he was named an honorary North Dakota Centennial Farmer.

Vogel is a former two-term North Dakota commissioner of agriculture and has been working as a lawyer for family farmers and ranchers in North Dakota and elsewhere since the 1980s.

Jack Johnson sings about playing poker and getting high with Willie Nelson on his bus

Monday, March 28th, 2016


“I know so many people that, if they could only go to one show a year, they’d choose Farm Aid”. “And that goes for me too.”
— Jack Johnson

Once again, Jack Johnson returned to the Farm Aid fundraiser concert stage in 2015, in support of the Family Farmers.  He started out his set  with a song he had just written, about everybody’s dream — smoking pot with Willie Nelson on his bus.

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

Willie and Waylon

Saturday, December 12th, 2015


Farm Aid 2014

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015


Willie Nelson signs the Farm Aid Grant Checks for 2015 ($610,000.00)

Friday, December 4th, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving at Alice’s Restaurant

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from Sirius/XM Radio (Rebroadcasting Farm Aid 2015 today)

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Enjoy our annual Farm Aid Thanksgiving feast for the ears featuring highlights from the recent Farm Aid 2015 concert in Chicago, Illinois, including full sets from Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young + Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real,John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson,Kacey Musgraves, Mavis Staples, Old Crow Medicine Show and Jamey Johnson. The six-hour special will air on Thanksgiving Day from noon-6 pm ET and Sunday 11/29 from 10 am-4 pm ET on SiriusXM Willie’s Roadhouse, Channel 59.

For more information on how you can help America’s family farmers go to and follow @FarmAid?#?FarmAid30? Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young + Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real,John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson,Kacey Musgraves, Mavis Staples, Old Crow Medicine Show and Jamey Johnson. The six-hour special will air on Thanksgiving Day from noon-6 pm ET and Sunday 11/29 from 10 am-4 pm ET on SiriusXM Willie’s Roadhouse, Channel 59. For more information on how you can help America’s family farmers go to and follow @FarmAid?#?FarmAid30?

For more information on how you can help America’s family farmers go and follow @FarmAid.


Willie Nelson friends and fans at Willie Nelson Gershwin Song Award in Washington, DC (11/18/15)

Thursday, November 19th, 2015


Farm Aid board and staff were on hand to celebrate Willie Nelson last night
Carolyn Mugar,  Jenifer Fahey and Kari Williams (and others I don’t know, sorry).


Shyla, Raul Malo, of Mavericks, and Jeremy Tepper, from Sirius/XM radio.


Jeremy Tepper, Jamey Johnson and Raul Malo

So many friends and fans and admirers on hand to recognize and honor Willie Nelson in Washington at the Library of Congress Gershwin Award for Song last night in Washington DC

gershwin 62

Lukas Nelson, Andy Bush, Micah Nelson,


Michael Bowman, Janis Tillerson, Ruth Boggs and me.



Farm Aid Tee Shirts

Monday, September 28th, 2015
T-shirts from the First Farm Aid – A Concert For America 1985
University of Illinois Memorial Stadium
Champaign, Illinois
September 22, 1985
Thanks to Alice Kaufman of Georgia, for taking these cool photos of tee shirts at the Farm Aid concert in Chicago on September 19th.
You can get your own 2015 Farm Aid shirt at:
Corky Jones – Farmer Hero    1996
Corky Jones, former president of American Agriculture Movement and dedicated Farm Aid supporter.

Farm Aid honors Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund

Thursday, September 24th, 2015


The Farm Aid organization, set up by signer Willie Nelson and other musicians held its 30th annual concert to raise funds for family farmers this past weekend in Chicago, Illinois.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund was honored for thirty years of technical assistance, education and advocacy for Black farmers and other family-sized farmers. The Federation was honored along with a dozen other family farm groups across the country.

John Zippert, the Federation’s Director of Program Operations and Co-Publisher of the Greene County Democrat (seen in second row) was honored at a two-day seminar before the Saturday concert. He appeared on the stage to accept the award with (L to R) in front row – Carolyn Mugar, Director of FarmAid, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews among other musicians and advocates at a press conference held before the concert began on Saturday, September 19.

For more information about the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund:

Amy’s Supports Non-GMO Food, labeling food, and Farm Aid #Road2FarmAid

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015


Thank you again to Amy’s for their support of Farm Aid 2015.  Amy’s continued support of the important work of Farm Aid  and their delicious food would be enough to like the company, but they also care deeply about what is in the food we eat and how it is grown.   Read more here, and support them and buy their products.

Amy’s Kitchen Supports Non-GMO Food

We’re passionate about organic and non-GMO food. Since we became aware of the concern with GMO’s, we’ve had a strict policy that requires our products not contain any GMO ingredients.

Why The Concern About GMOs?

There is a clear distinction between traditional breeding of crops and varieties (which we support) and the new technology of genetic engineering, which crosses species that could never be crossed in nature.

How Amy’s Provides Non-GMO Food

We Choose Organic
A consumer’s best option for avoiding GMOs is to choose organic. GMOs are banned in organic agriculture.
Amy’s Kitchen uses organic vegetables, grains and beans whenever they are commercially available.  At this time, over 99% or our vegetables, grains and beans are organic. All of Amy’s products comply with the NOP (National Organic Program) requirements that ingredients and products not be irradiated and not contain GMOs.

We Take Extra Care
All our ingredient suppliers are required to provide a written guarantee that ingredients sold to Amy’s Kitchen are neither derived from nor manufactured using GMOs.
Canola, corn, and soy are the main crops of concern regarding GMOs. We do not use any canola in our food, and for the organic corn and organic soy ingredients in our products, we rely on testing and other procedures to assure the ingredients are not contaminated with GMOs.  We also use some conventional soy ingredients, all of which are tested for GMOs.

We Support GMO-labeling Initiatives
We believe consumers have the right to know if they are eating GMOs. We work in close collaboration with other organic food companies and community groups working in this arena. We have dedicated staff at Amy’s who works to keep abreast of GMO labeling issues and add our support to grassroots efforts.


Just Label It Just Label It: We are founding members of the Just Label It campaign, which is focused on mandatory labeling of GMO ingredients as part of consumers’ rights to know what they are eating.
Non GMO Project Non-GMO Project: Amy’s Kitchen is a participant in the Non-GMO Project.
Prop 37 Prop 37: Amy’s Kitchen was a strong backer, both financially and organizationally, of the California Prop 37 “Yes on GMO labeling” campaign. We came very close to winning despite being outspent $47 million to $8 million. Over six million voters in California voted for this initiative.


– See more at:

Farm Aid 30 Concert (Sept. 19, 2015) (Chicago) (full broadcast)

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Thanks to Amy’s Foods for their on-going support of the work of Farm Aid, and especially for making the show avaiable to people around the world to watch on their computers. And now, we can watch the entire concert.

Be patient, takes a while to load.

To support the important work of Farm Aid:

Farm Aid Heroes: Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews

Monday, September 21st, 2015


These four are true heroes.  They have done so much to help so many, directly and indirectly, through their commitment to Farm Aid.  The money raised from the concerts they help organize has raised millions and millions (over $20 Million) that has been used to help family farmers, and create the Farm Aid organization that has grown out from that first fund raising event.    Year after year, for thirty years now, every fall,  these four dedicated artists have dropped everything, interrupted lucrative tours, left families at home, and flown themselves and their band members in to perform at the annual concert.   And they invite their friends and other musicians to do the same thing, for frees.

Millions of dollars have been raised to support family farmers, through Farm Aid.  Net works, crisis help lines, crisis assistance, resources, financial support are just a few of the ways Farm Aid has helped the family farmer stay on the land.  As well as keeping farmers on the land, networks created help support new farmers obtain land and education about farm.  Their work affects all of us — we all benefit from healthy food grown by farmers who really are the caretakers of the land, and not hourly paid worker for a large corporation.  So many farms are transitioning now, and farmers age and retire.  When there is no family member to continue farming, the productive farmland is sold to a corporations, who goal is not to be a steward of the land, but to make millions from it, with their chemicals and genetically modified seeds.

Thank you Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews

Learn more about Farm Aid, and how you can support them here:

Farm Aid 30: A history of Helping Family Farmers

Friday, September 18th, 2015

by:  Thom Duffy

A harvest moon would soon rise over 30,000 fans who had gathered on this September night to hear the guiding foursome of Farm Aid — Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews — sing out once more for the men and women who grow America’s food.

Amid the musical celebration in 2012 was an awareness of the ongoing threat to the survival of family farmers.  The number of small, independent, farms in the country continues to decline, while expenses continues to rise for those trying to make a living off the land.

Backstage, aboard his bio-diesel-fueled tour bus, Nelson sat back at a table and reflected on three decades of Farm Aid’s mission of supporting family farmers.

“They know now, after all these years, that we weren’t kidding,” said Nelson, speaking before the annual concert in 2012 in Hershey, Pa. “There really is a serious problem out there.”

Farm Aid on Saturday, Sept. 19 marks its 30th anniversary, returning to its Midwestern roots, with a performance in Chicago, at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island with Imagine Dragons joining Nelson and friends.  Also on the bill: Jack Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Old Crow Medicine Show, Jamey Johnson, Mavis Staples, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real (who have been backing Young on his current tour), Holly Williams, Insects vs. Robots, Ian Mellencamp and the Blackwood Quartet.

Here’s what most music fans may know about Farm Aid: One day, each year, since 1985, Farm Aid co-founders Nelson, Young and Mellencamp (joined later by Matthews) have gathered an all-star roster of musicians for a high-profile show to benefit America’s independent family farmers.

Here’s what fans may not know about Farm Aid: Over the past three decades — with the participation of scores of top-name stars — Farm Aid has helped influence a profound shift in the cultural landscape of the country.

The music-rooted organization deserves credit for promoting many of the most important changes in food culture in the United States in recent years: the growth of farmers’ markets, the spread of farm-to-table restaurants, sustainable farming methods and the surge in what’s become known as the Good Food movement. 

That movement has rejected the food grown on farms owned by corporations instead of families, “factory farms,” says Nelson, that have “polluted the water and the air, making it impossible for rural folks to enjoy their own homes.

Musicians, of course, have often offered their talents to meet the needs of the moment — and then moved on. The focus and endurance of Farm Aid is unique. It is the music industry’s longest-running concert for a cause.

“These four artists are just like farmers, they never give up,” says Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid. “They’re stubborn, they’re clever, they’re strategic and it’s because of them that this organization has been effective.”

The late Pete Seeger, gave his last major concert performance at Farm Aid in 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York, accompanied by, from left, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Neil Young.

The late Pete Seeger, gave his last major concert performance at Farm Aid in 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York, accompanied by, from left, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews and Neil Young.© Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc.

More than 400 artists have performed at Farm Aid during the past 30 years and each show has had highlights.  To cite a few in recent years:

Kenny Chesney, fresh off his stadium tour with Tim McGraw, came out as a surprise guest at Hersheypark Stadium in 2012. The late Pete Seeger — who ranks with Nelson as an American icon — made his final major concert appearance at Farm Aid in 2013 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. And last year’s concert at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C., featured Jack White, one of the hottest acts on that summer’s festival circuit.

Farm Aid is “eternally grateful” for the support of artists and the music industry, says Mugar. “It’s the combination of the music and the message that is so important. What happens at a Farm Aid concert opens up people’s hearts.”

But more than a concert, Farm Aid serves as an annual gathering of activists focused on the Good Food Movement, environmentalism and social justice battles.  Many farmers and activists travel to the event each year to network, share strategies, listen to music and eat great family farm food on a menu which Farm Aid has trademarked as “Homegrown.”

The social importance of family farms was recognized, at the 20th anniversary concert in Tinley Park, Ill., by one of the state’s rising political stars.

“We celebrate the family farm not only because it gives us the food we eat, but it also maintains a way of life,” said Barack Obama, then the U.S. senator from Illinois, who had come to introduce that night’s performance by Chicago’s Wilco. Those farms, he said, teach “the values of decency, and hard work and looking after one another.”

Farm Aid has its roots in the mid-’80s era of music activism. On July 13, 1985, onstage in Philadelphia at Live Aid, the concert for African famine relief, Bob Dylanremarked to the crowd: “Wouldn’t it be great if we did something for farmers right here in America?”

At the time, falling crop prices and rising debt payment had ignited a wave of foreclosures that were pushing family farmers off their land.

“I didn’t realize there was a problem until Bob Dylan said that,” recalled Nelson. “Then I started talking [to farmers] and found he was absolutely right.”

Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert on an all-but-impossibly-short lead time at the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Sept. 22, 1985. It is has been staged every year since, at venues around the country.

But the words and music of Farm Aid would mean little without money and action.

Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised $48 million through its concerts and outreach to donors. Those funds have funded a crisis hotline, created the Farmer Resource Network and a deep network of farmer advocates, pushed for national policies to support independent farmers and promoted new markets for the produce of family farms.

Their efforts have taken root. Thirty years ago, only a niche market existed for organic food and local produce. Today, that market has gone mainstream via some of the biggest events and companies in America.

Norah Jones Pays Tribute to Blue Note’s Bruce Lundvall at Farm Aid Benefit

Concessions at the Super Bowl in 2012 began serving organic chili, sourced through Farm Aid. The concert promotion giant Live Nation in 2013 began offeringlocally grown food at its amphitheaters. Wal-Mart in 2014 boosted its sales of organic food. And Target this year will increase its sales of grocery products sourced from small farms, via a deal with the Beekman 1802 Farm in upstate New York.

Willie Nelson once quipped that the work of Farm Aid simply affects everyone who eats.

But food culture and farming practices do, in fact, affect broader issues. Farm Aid’s advocates and artists have acknowledged links to concerns ranging fromincome and racial inequality — most significantly — climate change.

“The farmers are on the front lines of climate change,” said Neil Young at Farm Aid in 2013.  “And climate change is the issue of the 21st century.  It’s a bigger way of looking at what we’re doing here. It’s about getting the carbon out of the sky and back into the earth.”

While musicians draw the media’s attention, one of Farm Aid’s greatest achievements has been giving voice to the farmers themselves. At a press conference before each year’s concert, and in compelling videos presented between musicians’ sets, Farm Aid has presented the stories of those struggling to grow food in a sustainable manner.

Among those whom audiences heard from at Farm Aid’s 2014 concert in Raleigh were Dorathy and Phillip Barker, an African-American couple who bought land in Oxford, N.C., in 1981 to create Olusanya Farm. Besides the challenges facing all family farmers, the Barkers spoke of the racial discrimination they faced from bankers as they sought financing for their dairy farm.

“It didn’t take long for me to realize they were pissing in my face — and it wasn’t raining,” said Dorathy Barker.

The couple became the leaders of Operation Spring Plant, a non-profit group advocating for minority and low-income farmers. And they are addressing perhaps the greatest need for the survival of family farmers — the need to ignite a passion for farming among a new generation, the concert-going generation.

“If you can’t show a young person that they can make a living” farming, says Philip Barker, “then you’re just wasting your time. “They have to understand the wealth of the land. That’s been our job. We’re trying to establish a lifetime thing for the next generation — a guide, a toolbox, for them to use moving forward.”


Willie Nelson Guitar Pick of the Day — Farm Aid 30

Friday, September 18th, 2015


“30 years and close to 100 Million Dollars is what this one man, his Family, and his Friends have raised to help the farmers of America. It took 30 long days to make these picks. That’s nothin’. It takes up to 100 longer days, every day, to grow one ear of corn. That’s somethin’. Designed by Buddy “Budrock” Prewitt and a guy that knows that being a farmer is one of the most difficult jobs on this earth. Here’s to you Willie and every single Farmer in America. Enough said…”

— Guthrie Thomas