Over Three Decades of Family Farm Support: Farm Aid 2019

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34 years ago, Ethiopia was experiencing a famine of such magnitude that rock stars began organizing benefit concerts in Philadelphia and London, televised by satellite around the world. A remark made at “Live Aid,” as it was termed, by Bob Dylan went as follows: “I hope that some of the money that’s raised for the people in Africa, maybe they can take a little bit of it—one or two million maybe—and use it to pay the mortgages on some of the farms that the farmers here owe to the banks.” Bob Dylan had been receiving letters from American farmers who were struggling to hold onto their family farms. They’d reached out to the legendary musician hoping that he could inform the world of their increasingly desperate situation. Dylan’s comments sparked a movement of its own, spawning an annual event with an ongoing need. Now, more than three decades later, Farm Aid is taking place at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, in East Troy, Wisconsin, on September 21, 2019.

The passion that Dylan expressed in 1985 was picked up by the likes of Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young, who were integral in organizing the very first Farm Aid, which was held in Champaign, Illinois, in 1985. Since that time, Farm Aid has traveled to various locations annually, raising “awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on the land.” Since its humble beginnings, the non-profit has raised $57 million towards promoting a strong family agriculture system in America.

Video: YouTube/Farm Aid

The video above features Willie Nelson and his family performing “Whiskey River” for Farm Aid 2018 fans. The Texas Hill Country singer-songwriter continues to work with local, state, and national organizations to advocate for fair farming policy and an agriculture system that continues to be grassroots-oriented family farm-centered. The organization, as a whole, has taken up the torch against factory farms and for educating consumers about such things as growth hormones and genetically modified food. They’ve also taken up the cause of supporting individual states and circumstances, where farmers and the agricultural industry suffer. In 2017, Nelson took to social media pertaining to the devastation that Hurricane Harvey wreaked on the states of Louisiana and Texas combined. “We have so many ways to help our friends after the floods in Texas and Louisiana. Here is another one, this one will focus on our farmers in need and we have a lot. No matter what, just expend a helping hand in one way or another,” he said.

Farm Aid has continued for 34 years, educating and supporting, all while offering a festival atmosphere of multi-musical genres. This year’s event on September 21 includes such performers as Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Luke Combs, Jamey Johnson, and Brothers Osborne, among others. Viewers and listeners can tune in via webcast, SiriusXM channel 59 (Willie’s Roadhouse) or AXS T.V.’s broadcast of the event. There’s also a Farm Aid app and a Homegrown Village and Homegrown Concessions (smaller festivals within the festival in support of its cause). Those of you who are so inclined to make a donations can also do so at the link available here.