Farm Aid Still Going Strong

Farm Aid Still Going Strong

Farm Aid Still Going Strong. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

26 years ago I was working at a radio station and living in Bloomington, Illinois when we got word of a very unusual concert about to be staged in nearby Champaign, Illinois. It was called Farm Aid.

FAHY: As the legend goes, now that we are in our 26th year I can call it that; Willie Nelson was of course touring like he still does to this day across the country and hearing from farmers and ranchers and truckers and all the folks involved in the agriculture industry and just regular old folks in the heartland who were in the middle of this crisis. And farmers were in the headlines of newspapers and they were going out of business and being forced off the land. So he was acutely aware of the situation.

That’s Jennifer Fahy, Communications Director with Farm Aid.

FAHY: It was about the time that Live Aid was happening and Bob Dylan stood up at Live Aid and said you know it’s great that we’re doing this for Africa but we’ve got folks who are suffering at home as well and somebody should stand up and do something for them. So Willie took that on and it was about 6 weeks from the inception of the idea to the concert. He got John Mellencamp and Neil Young involved.

September 22, 1985. I was not there but the station that I was at aired the whole concert live. The concert pulled some 80-thousand attendees and raised $9-million dollars. Fahy says once the concert was over they figured, that’s that.

FAHY: The guys always say, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson always say we thought we’d do one and we’d solve the problem but obviously we continue to this day 26 years later. In the last 25 years we have raised $39-million dollars and the concert was never just about raising money it was also about raising awareness. They went to Washington after the concert and they were on the Hill talking to folks and hoping that Washington would step in and correct it but 26 years later it’s clear that the problem is deep and difficult and the problems have changed over 26 years.

Farm Aid 26 gets underway August 13th in Kansas City, Kansas. Fahy says that Farm Aid has gone through different phases.

FAHY: That first phase was really a response to crisis. It was Willie Nelson standing up and saying we can’t afford to lose these people off the land. They deserve us to stand up for them and I think that’s now where we’re at. Folks are making the connections and realizing they need family farmers on the land.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

Previous ReportKeeping Bees Part 2
Next ReportFarm Aid Part 2