Sept. 22 Marks Official Anniversary of Historic Farm Aid Concert
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On September 22, 1985, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young organized the first Farm Aid concert to help family farmers stay on their land. Twenty-five years later, with the added support of Dave Matthews, who joined the Farm Aid board of directors in 2001, Farm Aid leaders say the organization is going strong.
“We’ve come a long way from the farm crisis of the ’80s, but we’re not done yet—there are so many challenges still facing family farmers and the kind of food system we want,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Each and every one of us can be part of this work. Today we honor the farmers, the advocates, the activists and the eaters who have brought us this far. These are the people growing hope. And I challenge everyone: ‘How can you grow hope?'”
The first Farm Aid concert, which took place in Champaign, Ill., and featured more than 50 musical acts before a crowd of nearly 80,000, raised $9 million and sparked a farm movement that continues to this day. To mark its official anniversary today, Farm Aid published 25 milestones that represent major accomplishments by the organization. These milestones, which range from the passage of landmark legislation that kept thousands of family farmers on the land to building a movement for good food from family farms, are representative of the many victories family farmers and Farm Aid have accomplished in their efforts to build a stronger food system centered on family farms.
According to Farm Aid organizers, the full impact of the past 25 years can be seen in a broad-based, cultural shift that has given rise to what is known as the Good Food Movement. The organization describes the Good Food Movement as the growing demand for good food from family farms. The number of new and beginning farmers on the land; the doubling of farmers’ markets in the last 10 years; the demand for family farm food in restaurants, grocery stores, schools and other institutions; and the organic garden on the lawn of the White House are just some examples of the Good Food Movement at work.
“That first Farm Aid concert 25 years ago was a monumental success, but more remarkable is the fact that each year the movement has grown, and our work is more crucial than ever in an age of industrial agriculture that hurts our farmers, our environment and our health,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “The incredible momentum of this movement could not have occurred without the vision, tenacity and commitment of Willie, John and Neil, who understood back then that having family farmers on the land is necessary for the health of our economy, our environment and our selves—in short, the well-being of our country.”
The full list of Farm Aid’s 25 milestones can be viewed at http://www.farmaid.org/25.
Tickets for Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America are available at the Miller Park box office, by phone at (414) 902-4000 or online at http://www.tickets.com.
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $37 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.