Top Ten Farm Aid Myths

One thing that we notice every concert season, is that we hear from a lot of people that have a Farm Aid story of their own. We love to hear these stories but every now and then we hear a few details that could use a tune up. Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Willie works out of the Farm Aid office.

Wouldn’t that be nice! Willie is a wonderful board president and very dedicated to Farm Aid. He calls the office regularly. However, he is “on the road again” more often than not (but we still hope that one day he will drop in for lunch!).

2. Farm Aid funds are used to lobby in Washington.

Farm Aid does not send staffers to Washington to lobby. However, we do work with many organizations that work at the national level to create better food and farm policy. We use these professional relationships to pass on to our supporters any vital information that you might need to urge your own lawmakers to support your priorities. In a Farm Bill year, such as this one, fact-finding and information sharing is critical.

3. Farm Aid funds go directly to farmers.

This is perhaps one of the most common things we hear from folks who are just learning about Farm Aid. We cannot, in fact, support any part of a farmer’s business. In cases of personal or natural disaster, Farm Aid can send small grants to farmers for household needs – like groceries and utility bills. We believe that our grant dollars have the most impact when we fund community-based projects that share our mission: keeping family farmers on the land and thriving. These groups also work with hundreds and thousands of farmers each year – meaning that the money that we raise can help many, many more farmers than if we worked directly in farm loans or debt.

4. There are many Farm Aid concerts every year.

While some of us think that would be fun, our staff works hard on our one annual fundraising concert. For the rest of the year, we work on food and farm issues. Our work is grounded in what farmers and consumers tell us is needed to secure a thriving food and farm future for all.

5. Hundreds of people work for Farm Aid.

Right now, we have a staff of eleven. We all work on concert related jobs and go to the show. However, we also bring on many experts to make the show a great success. Between production staff, concert staff, Farm Aid staff, volunteers and local organizers, hundreds of people do spend a part of their summer working on the show.

6. Farm Aid only works with large, corporate farms.

Farm Aid works on behalf of family farmers. Our hotline and the programs that we fund are open to any who want to participate. This confusion may arise from the very public debate on subsidies, the majority of which go to corporate farms, which are often referred to as “farm aid”.

7. Farm Aid only works with organic farmers.

Many of the farmers and organizations that we work with are actively involved in organics. Just like the last question, however, Farm Aid works with all farmers. Our interest in organics, sustainable agriculture, direct marketing and other alternative kinds of farming, come from the enthusiasm we hear from the farmers themselves who work in the ‘field’. We whole-heartedly want to bring the message of farm success stories to farm country and consumerland – organics is not the whole story but it is a definite part of this message.

8. There is a Farm Aid office in every state.

We are the one and only. Believe it or not, our staff of eleven, in Somerville, Massachusetts is the only year-round Farm Aid staff.

9. Farm Aid is based in Illinois.

It would make sense. The first Farm Aid concert was in Illinois and for years we maintained an account for donations in Champaign (that address is now defunct). When Farm Aid began, Willie asked our esteemed Executive Director Carolyn Mugar to help steer the ship. As a Massachusetts native, Carolyn agreed to the job so long as she could work close to home. And, in fact, the early days of Farm Aid the office was her kitchen table!

10. The Farm Aid concert is just like any other concert.

For anyone who has been to one of our shows, We hope that you already know the answer to this but for those who couldn’t make it: Anyone who works at or has attended a Farm Aid concert, they can tell you that it has a soul (that’s what Guster called it this year). We work hard to make this concert a celebration of the wonderful world of food and farming. This year, the food really carried this message but when Willie plays, it always sounds a little bit like a pat on the back to all the farmers in the audience. When Neil plays, he cheers on the consumer who is driving the movement from the other end of the equation. All the artists donate their time and travel, so do hundreds of volunteers. It’s also the day of the year when a 20 hour work day makes everyone smile.

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