A resurgence of support for family farming helped FARM AID
sell out its 10th Anniversary Concert in Louisville, Kentucky
and net nearly $1 million -- twice the amount of money
raised at any of the past three FARM AID concerts. In the
10 years since its first concert, FARM AID has distributed
more than $12 million and served as a national voice for an
ever-dwindling population of family farmers. "The 10th
Anniversary Concert has put the problems of family farmers
back on the front pages," said FARM AID President Willie
Nelson. "As long as 70 farm families are going out of
business every day, FARM AID will continue to provide a stage
for them to tell their stories." The seven-hour anniversary
concert was telecast Monday, October 2 on TNN: the Nashville
FARMERS RALLY AT FARM AID FORUM
Prior to its 10th Anniversary Concert FARM AID hosted a town hall
meeting titled "Agriculture at a Crossroads." More than 300
farmers, consumer advocates and rural residents joined U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and other elected officials at
the meeting, which was televised nationally on C-Span.
"We're trying to do something here that doesn't happen enough
in Washington," FARM AID Executive Director Carolyn Mugar said
as she opened the meeting. "We're going to listen to the real
experts - the family farmers and not those agri-business lobbyists
who are more interested in fingering dollars than dirt."
A diverse panel of farm and rural leaders from across the
country spoke about a wide range of issues including the 1995
Farm Bill, sustainable agriculture, young farmers, direct
marketing, the threat of industrial agriculture, minority farmer
and farmworker rights, and expanding the links between consumers
Panelists at the town hall meeting included:
- FARM AID Executive Director Carolyn Mugar
- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman
- Wendell Berry, poet and author
- Kentucky Lt. Governor Paul Patton
- Kentucky Ag Secretary Ed Logsdon
- Congressman Mike Ward (D-KY)
- Sarah Fritschner, food editor for the Louisville Courier-Journal
- Tribby Vice- Community Farm Alliance
- Rod Keugel - Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative
- Sue Weant - Mothers and Others for a Liveable Planet
- Willie Head - Federation of Southern Cooperatives
- Chris Yandel - Kentucky FFA
- Roger Allison - Campaign for Family Farms and the
- Marinell Strain - National Contract Poultry Growers
- Arturo Rodriguez - United Farm Workers
- Larry Swartz - Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
- Bill Sprague - Kentucky Farm Bureau
- Larry Mitchell - National Farmers Union
- Gary Goldberg - American Corn Growers Association
- Denise O'Brien - National Family Farm Coalition
One of the strongest messages to emerge from the town hall
meeting was the need to defend rural communities against
the spread of large, factory-style farming operations. Members
of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment marched to
the town hall meeting carrying signs proclaiming "Family Farms
Not Factory Farms." Speakers at the meeting emphasized the
role that industrial farms play in polluting the water and air,
jeopardizing the quality of food supply, and driving family
farmers off the land.
FAMILY FARMERS CALL ON CLINTON TO VETO CURRENT FARM BILL
During the FARM AID town hall meeting, family farmers united
to call on President Clinton to veto the farm bill if it proves
similar to current proposals being circulated on Capital Hill.
Farmers delivered this message to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman
and other state and local officials at the forum.
Glickman, who called proposed congressional budget cuts to
agriculture programs "excessive," told the audience that he
would work with President Clinton to help family farmers share
in a healthy future. The proposed budget cuts, totalling
$13.5 billion for agriculture programs, are part of a
reconciliation bill put forth by Republican leaders. "We
are fighting to resist those cuts," Glickman told the town
meeting participants. "That makes it extraordinarily
difficult to deal with farm policy."
Administration support for FARM AID and the nation's family
farmers also came in the form of a letter from President
Bill Clinton. "Our nation's agricultural success comes from
hardworking men and women who till the fields and grow our
food, and they deserve our respect, gratitude and support,"
Clinton said in a letter addressed to FARM AID organizers.
FARM AID artists supported farmers' calls for fair farm policy.
FARM AID co-founder Neil Young stated, "FARM AID is here to
help farmers stop factory farms from polluting our rivers
and stop Congress from passing a farm bill that's not even
near good enough for us."
TOP ARTISTS HELP GENERATE SUPPORT FOR NATION'S FARMERS
Hootie and the Blowfish, Dave Matthews Band, Blackhawk,
John Conlee, SuperSuckers and Steve Earle joined FARM AID
founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young on
October 1 to generate $1 million for America's family farmers.
The sold-out concert attracted a crowd of more than 47,000
FARM AID supporters, including hundreds of the nation's
"Over the past 10 years, hundreds of artists have donated
their time and talent to help FARM AID shine a spotlight
on the problems facing family farmers," FARM AID
President Willie Nelson said. "FARM AID wouldn't be
possible without their support."
FARM AID LAUNCHES WWW SITE; SUPPORTERS ACCESS INFO DIRECT
FARM AID launched a world wide web (WWW) site on the Internet
during the organization's 10th Anniversary Concert. The
new site, http://justicerecords.com/farmaid/, is a
storehouse of information about FARM AID and issues affecting
America's family farmers. The WWW site includes an electronic
- FARM AID Newsletters;
- "Farm Aid News" bulletins;
- The history of FARM AID;
- FARM AID program details; and
- Information about what citizens can do to help preserve
family farm agriculture.
On the day of the concert, Willie Nelson's opening performance
was transmitted live to the FARM AID WWW site. This transmittal
marked the first time that mainstream computer users could
access a live video and audio concert feed. Justice Records
sponsored and coordinated the event.
FARM AID MEMBERSHIPS HELP SUPPORT AMERICA'S FAMILY FARMERS
Support for FARM AID is crucial to reclaiming America's
family farm heritage and to building a safe food supply.
Annual FARM AID memberships are available for $35.00.
Members receive regular mailings of the Farm Aid Newsletter
and other benefits.
To become a member of FARM AID, call 1-800-FARM-AID.
We welcome comments and suggestions: contact Harry
Smith at FARM AID, (617) 354-2922. Fax: (617) 354-6992.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage the
reproduction of FARM AID NEWS. Produced by The
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) for
FARM AID. Editors: Gigi DiGiacomo and Harry Smith.
For information on other agriculture bulletins, contact
IATP: (612) 379-5980. Fax: (612) 379-5982. Email: