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Farm Aid has become the expert in responding to disasters for the family farmers during the past 32 years. The Farm Aid concerts are the biggest moneymakers for the agency in order to deliver the badly needed funds to the American farmers in distress. The all day festivals have raised over $50,000,000 since 1985 for family farmers. The one-hour press conference is a tradition before each conference between the board: Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, and some of the other performers.

The other performers that attended this year were Sheryl Crow, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke, Valerie June, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, Avett Brothers, and David Amram. Several local farmers were there to discuss the urgency in investing in agriculture and what was being done to help the local food economy.

Each member of the board had an opportunity to speak to the attendees, but Neil Young is usually the most passionate and the most eloquent speaker of the pack. This year was no exception. Young started with, “This brings me to a subject that I want to get off my mind. America is already great. We don’t need to apologize. We don’t need to feel bad. If you watch TV, you are going to feel bad because all they talk about is bad things. They talk about what’s wrong with this, what’s wrong with that. That’s not what Farm Aid is about. Farm Aid is about real people working together. If you find a farm that cannot make a living, look for industry somewhere in the trail. Look for the corporations between you and your goal and eliminate them.  That’s what people are doing that’s so great. You are talking to each other and you are making it happen. And that’s why America is already great.“

Young continued, “We are going to continue to do that. This is the beginning of something really big and you people are right there in the middle of it. It’s very inspiring to me. We all know that good food is great. We need to give it to our kids. We need to grow it. We need to share it. We need to eliminate boardrooms and those people who are controlling the prices These people are jacking everybody around trying to control everything. And we have to be very careful and keep our eyes open when there are natural disasters that are a part of what’s going on in the world today including climate change. When these things happen, that’s when the government and the corporations move in and they try to steal everything that you are building. With emergencies, they create new rules. Just don’t go there. Stick with yourselves, your hearts, and what you are doing. Please don’t give up because we are right on the edge of doing something really great and it’s so inspiring.”

If you are a farmer and have been affected by Hurricanes Harvey or Irma, please contact Farm Aid at 1-800-FARM-AID (800-327-6243) or farmhelp@farmaid.org. Additional tools for farmers and ranchers are available at farmaid.org/disaster. To donate to those affected in Texas and Louisiana, please visit farmaid.org/harvey. For a review of the 2017 concert, please click here.