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Why Farm Aid Still Matters

Why Farm Aid Still Matters

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Farm Aid. In 1985, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm-families on their land.

Organized during the “farm crisis” of the 1980s, twenty-five years later the economic conditions of that time seem to be repeating, and their work remains just as important.

But the group is about more than just an annual concert; it works year-round on behalf of family farmers and good food and their mission remains the same: to keep family farmers on their land.

To date, the nonprofit organization has raised over $37 million and they work to promote food from family farms, grow the good food movement, help farmers, and take action to change the food/farming system.

As they say, “family farmers in the United States are under extreme economic pressure and thousands are pushed off their land every year. This crisis in farm country is threatening the very existence of the family farm in America. As family farms are forced out by large, factory farms, the quality of our food, our environment and our food security is in danger.”

As I have written about before, family farmers are important because they provide economic vitality to their communities, grow high quality food, and are stewards of the land working to protect the soil, air, water and biodiversity.

Some of the ways Farm Aid helps farmers include developing The Farmer Resource Network, 1-(800) FARM-AID, to provide immediate support services to farmers in crisis. Now the network is also online and it connects farmers to an extensive network of resources across the country to help find new markets, transition to more sustainable and profitable farming practices, and survive natural disasters.

They also point out that family farmers can only thrive if there are markets for them. Farm Aid works to connect farmers and eaters by creating local and regional markets, and working to get family farm food in urban neighborhoods, restaurants, schools, and other public institutions.

The group’s main event remains the iconic, yearly concert featuring the founders and others raising money for America’s family farmers.

This year’s concert, called “Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America” is focusing on sustainable practices on farms and local and regional food systems. It takes place Saturday October 2 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In addition to board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews (who joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001), this year’s line up also includes Kenny Chesney, Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Jeff Tweedy, Band of Horses, The BoDeans, Amos Lee, and Robert Francis. Tavis Smiley is hosting the event.

The concert is part of an all day-festival that features HOMEGROWN vendors, family farmed, local and organic food, and the HOMEGROWN Village that “give concertgoers a chance to meet farmers, get their hands dirty and learn how family farmers are growing good food, protecting our natural resources and connecting us to our roots.”

You can fan Farm Aid on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check out one of their newest ventures HOMEGROWN. It encourages people to get good food from family farms.

You can also get involved in Farm Aid’s Action Center where concerned citizens can become advocates for farm policy change. Part of this work includes working alongside farmers to protest family farms and inform farmers and eaters about issues such as growth hormones and genetically modified foods.

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Do Good, Nature, , ,

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

67 comments

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9:42PM PDT on Oct 3, 2010

I wish I could have been at the concert this year. Farm Aid is as relevant today as it was when it was founded 25 years ago. Family farms=YES Factory farms=NO.

6:46AM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

May you remain dedicated, grow in numbers, and reach the masses. Family farms are a foundation block of America, not to be discarded for factory farms producing forced product and evil processing methods. God bless!

9:31PM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

Happy 25th Anniversary Farm-Aid!! I still have a souvenir bandanna from the first concert. Since I grew up on a family farm, I believe passionately in Farm-Aid goals/ objectives. Corporate farming is evil vampire sucking the life out of mid-west farming states & producing contaminated food.

6:53PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

In my town they are setting aside lands for conservation and farming but no one is farming ?

5:45PM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

Important then, even more important now.

10:08AM PDT on Sep 3, 2010

Farm Aid is still relevant by working to promote food from family farms, helping to grow the good food movement and by helping farmers. Hope to see you in Milwaukee!
Peace

8:49PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

cont...

Ric O'Barry, who stars in "The Cove," has gathered about 100 people in Tokyo, including supporters from abroad, to protest the dolphin slaughter. He took a PETITION with 1.7 MILLION Signatures from 155 Nations to the U.S. Embassy on Thursday. HOO-RAY !!! :)

I'M Crying & Laughing All At The Same Time - And Covered In Goosebumps:)

Saving Our World One Petition At A Time!!! YES WE WILL !!!

It's Christmas In September... WoW!!!

8:49PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

CARE2 People... LOOK:)
Petitions Don't Work??
SAY'S WHO!!!!
Dolphins caught, NOT killed, in Japan cove
Sep 2, 9:52 PM (ET)
By YURI KAGEYAMA

TOKYO (AP) - Dolphins have been herded into a cove as part of an annual hunt in the Japanese seaside town made famous by an Oscar-winning documentary about their slaughter, Sea Shepherd said Friday. A town official said None were killed.

The dolphin hunt at Taiji, documented in "The Cove," begins Sept. 1 every year. The boats returned empty Wednesday. But on Thursday, some dolphins were corralled into the inlet, according to anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd and a fishing official in Taiji.

The official in charge of media queries at the Taiji fishing organization said a handful of dolphins were kept for aquariums, but the rest were set free Friday morning. He declined to give details.

Sea Shepherd said it has been monitoring Taiji with a small crew of Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Japanese this week.
(cont)

2:53PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Thanks for the info!

4:04AM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Thanks For Posting !!!

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