Farm Aid Annual Report
Farm Aid's role always has been to serve as the public defender of America's family farms. Willie Nelson, with colleagues Neil Young and John Mellencamp, founded Farm Aid to use their voices and the support of the American people to raise awareness and funds to strengthen family farm agriculture.
- Farm Aid has earned an 'A' rating from American Institute of Philanthropy's charitywatch.org.
- View Farm Aid's 2012 IRS form 990, including the Attachment to 990 and Schedule A.
- View Farm Aid's independent audited financial report for 2012.
- Farm Aid is 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization as defined by the IRS.
- The IRS requires that the organization benefit the general public for the purpose for which it was established. Charity watchdogs have established standards to measure the efficiency of how non-profits perform.
- Overall Farm Aid performance 1985 to 2012
Total expenditures $41,485,894
Program expenditures $32,622,410 — or 79% of total expenditures
- Farm Aid performance for 2012
Total expenditures $1,798,375
Program expenditures $1,365,713 — or 76% of total expenditures
- Net assets:
Farm Aid maintains a surplus of both restricted and unrestricted assets. In 2012, temporarily restricted net assets consisted of $492,505, which represents a fund for agriculture scholarships established by the Younkers Department store in 1985.
- Farm Aid's 2012 unrestricted assets were $1,321,655.
Farm Aid Activities for 2012
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 support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose food from family farms. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $43 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. The following Farm Aid programs accomplished our mission in 2012:
Promoting Food From Family Farmers
The heart of Farm Aid’s work to promote food from family farms is our annual concert event. Farm Aid 2012 was held at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA, on September 22. A record crowd of more than 30,000 enjoyed performances by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds. Additional artists included Jack Johnson, Kenny Chesney, Jamey Johnson, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, ALO, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Pegi Young & the Survivors, and Dale Watson. All of the artists donated their time and travel expenses.
On September 22 at Hersheypark Stadium:
- Farm Aid served local, organic and family-farm foods at our HOMEGROWN Concessions® stands and backstage.
- The HOMEGROWN Youthmarket sold local produce and baked goods to concertgoers. The Youthmarket was coordinated by GrowNYC and staffed by local FFA youth.
- We built Farm Aid’s largest HOMEGROWN Village, where more than 30 food and farm groups engaged concert-goers in hands-on interactive exhibits about soil, water, food, renewable energy and family farmers.
- Our annual food drive and food rescue held at the concert with Central Pennsylvania Food Bank collected more than 12,000 pounds of food for Pennsylvania families in need.
- In our continual effort to green the concert and reduce waste, we implemented our sixth consecutive recycling and composting program at the concert. Waste from this year’s concert is in the process of being turned into compost to sustain future crops. We also sold reusable aluminum water bottles to reduce plastic use. Concert t-shirts were made with certified organic cotton, grown by U.S. family farmers.
- The concert generated several major donations as well as individual gifts. Corporate sponsors included Giant Food Stores, Anvil Knitwear, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Horizon Organic, Weis Markets, Organic Valley, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Silk Soymilk, Amy’s Kitchen, Bell & Evans Air Chilled, Martin Guitar, Messina Wildlife PLOTSAVER, and UNFI Foundation.
Farm Aid coordinated a number of pre-concert events and activities in central Pennsylvania to bring farmers together, engage the public and invite the media to highlight issues of concern to family farmers and eaters. These events included:
- The second National Meeting of Farm Advocates;
- Farm tours at the Rodale Institute Experimental Farm in Kutztown and at Spiral Path Farm in Loysville; and
- A farmer meeting about unconventional shale gas extraction and the family farm.
Before Farm Aid 2012 kicked off, Farm Aid held a press event attended by hundreds of credentialed media. The event featured Farm Aid’s board artists, Brian Snyder, executive director of Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and Pennsylvania farmers Jenn Halpin and Tom and Donna Perry.
Farm Aid 2012 received tremendous local and regional media coverage, as well as national and international attention. The stories not only promoted the entertainment value of the concert, but also Farm Aid’s message about connecting people everywhere with fresh, healthful food from family farms. In fact, nearly every story about the concert included information about HOMEGROWN Concessions®, the HOMEGROWN Village and the family farmers in attendance. The concert was webcast as a special presentation on YouTube.com and farmaid.org. Additionally, the concert was broadcast live on the Willie’s Place channel on Sirius XM satellite radio across the country.
Growing Our Online Community
Farm Aid’s website was a primary tool for communicating with our audience, collecting donations, selling concert tickets and merchandise, engaging users in online advocacy with petitions and letter-writing campaigns, and organizing events. In 2012, there were more than 700,000 visits to farmaid.org by more than 516,000 unique visitors, a nearly 50% increase over last year.
Farm Aid 2012 accomplished the following on www.farmaid.org:
- 35,966 unique visitors on concert-day.
- 98,509 views of the webcast shown on www.farmaid.org on concert-day and on Farm Aid’s YouTube channel on concert day.
- Between September 22-29, the website brought in $28,530 in donations and merchandise sales.
Farm Aid’s email newsletter kept the Farm Aid community informed and inspired with monthly columns that profile America’s family farmers and address readers’ questions about food and farming. In 2012, Farm Aid grew its email list by 13,400 new contacts by focusing on timely, relevant topics and offering online tools to take action. Actions included submitting comments to the Food and Drug Administration regarding the labeling of genetically-engineered foods and celebrating Food Day on October 24th by sending e-cards to friends and family with links to help them find family farm food.
Farm Aid also continued its social media endeavors on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We grew the number of fans and connections on these networks by thousands of users (currently near 50,000 on Facebook, and nearly 18,000 on Twitter) while engaging people with updates from www.farmaid.org, links to relevant news articles and concert updates. Farm Aid videos on YouTube have been viewed over 15 million times.
HOMEGROWN.org is Farm Aid’s online community that enhances the relationship between family farmers and eaters through the shared experience of growing food and participating in an agrarian life. This year, HOMEGROWN.org broke ground on the “HOMEGROWN 101 Library,” a new focus of the website offering instruction and lessons on agrarian and homemaking skills. As an open and trusted source of information for all eaters and growers interested in connecting to the land, HOMEGROWN.org aims to empower everyone with the skills that they need to live homegrown. The social networking site experienced 18.5% growth in visitor traffic, for a total of 243,169 visits, with a 34% increase in unique visitors.
The HOMEGROWN Village of interactive, hands-on food and farm exhibits was installed at the Farm Aid 2012 concert and included the return of the popular HOMEGROWN Skills Tent. The Skills Tent offered a day-long classroom where local food and farm educators taught agrarian skills such as composting, backyard chicken-keeping, and cooking local food on a budget. In May, the HOMEGROWN Village also returned, for the fourth year, to Maker Faire Bay Area — a gathering of more than 80,000 do-it-yourself enthusiasts.
In 2012, Farm Aid received its trademark for HOMEGROWN Concessions®. HOMEGROWN Concessions® were featured not just at Farm Aid 2012 (which represented the most complete conversion to family farm sourced food at a Farm Aid concert), but also at the Super Bowl on February 5th in Indianapolis, IN, where Farm Aid partnered with Centerplate to serve HOMEGROWN chili. The HOMEGROWN Concessions® debut at the Super Bowl leveraged Farm Aid’s expertise in building relationships with local family farmers to source ingredients for three chili recipes, including the first organic food item in Super Bowl Concessions. HOMEGROWN Concessions® also partnered with Centerplate at the Natural Products Expo East, September 19-22 in Baltimore, MD, to bring HOMEGROWN options to the conference. Farm Aid also spoke on a panel about innovations in organic food service.
Growing the Good Food Movement
During 2012, Farm Aid and its partners continued to implement strategies that bolster the Good Food Movement — the growing number of Americans clamoring for family farm-identified, local, organic or humanely raised food. Farm Aid awarded grants in the amount of $54,500 to organizations that build connections between farmers and consumers and create new markets for family farm food.
Building on the successful release of Rebuilding America’s Economy with Family Farm-Centered Food Systems, Farm Aid’s report on the positive economic impact of family farm food systems, Farm Aid engaged in a number of high profile events promoting the development of local and regional food systems throughout the country. In March, Farm Aid joined White House staff and USDA officials in the release of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, a comprehensive guide outlining the federal government’s support of food systems work. In October, Farm Aid took part in National Farm to School Month and Food Day, engaging our online community with activities that highlight the importance of family farmers and celebrate their good food.
Helping Farmers Thrive
Through 1-800-FARM-AID and firstname.lastname@example.org, Farm Aid’s in-house Farm Advocate refers farmers to an extensive network of family farm and rural support organizations across the country. Referrals provide immediate support to farm families in crisis, and also support farmers seeking to transition to more sustainable farming practices. There were nearly 800 calls and emails to the Farm Aid hotline in 2012, a 20% increase from last year. About an eighth of those contacts were from farmers affected by the historic drought that continues to ravage cropland and pasture across the U.S.
On September 20th, Farm Aid partnered with the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA to host the Second National Meeting of Farm Advocates. This unique meeting gathered sixty-five farm advocates from around the country to learn from each other and train a new generation of service providers to family farmers in crisis, transition or those getting started on the land. Using real-life case studies of issues ranging from credit access for beginning farmers to discrimination in farm lending practices, farm advocates acquired new skills and identified priorities in their field. Farm Aid is building on these gatherings through the Farm Advocate Link, which provides support to new and seasoned farm advocates, strengthening the support network for family farmers across the country.
In 2012, Farm Aid made major investments in the Farmer Resource Network, an interactive website and database of more than 500 organizations that provide guidance for new farmers, direct assistance to farmers in crisis, and support for farmers looking to transition to more sustainable production methods and markets. In 2012, Farm Aid upgraded the content and design of the Farmer Resource Network website, adding new guides on Beginning Farmers, Financial Resources, Sustainable Options and Crisis Support and the new Resource Spotlight blog to keep the farm community tuned in to new tools and timely opportunities for farm viability and sustainability.
Farm Aid has increased its visibility in the funding community to bring attention to the varied challenges faced by family farmers and to encourage collaboration and collective problem solving. Farm Aid presented to the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders on issues including the 2012 Farm Bill, legal needs in sustainable agriculture, and drought and disaster. Farm Aid also engaged several other foundations and funder groups on farm credit and land access issues.
Farm Aid awarded $251,130 in grants to help farmers find the resources they need to begin farming, access new markets, grow sustainably, and build resilience in the face of financial and natural disasters. This included $3,500 in emergency grants and $25,000 through the Family Farm Disaster Fund to support farmers affected by this year’s severe drought.
In recognition of Farm Aid’s work to stand up for family farmers, Carolyn Mugar accepted the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on behalf of Farm Aid from Framingham State College in May 2012. Neil Young was honored as the MusicCares Person of the Year in part due to his work with Farm Aid. John Mellencamp received the John Steinbeck Award for music, in part due to this work with Farm Aid. Willie Nelson was presented with the CMA Lifetime Achievement Award for his legacy in country music and philanthropy.
Taking Action to Change the System
Farm Aid works with local, regional and national organizations to promote fair farm policies and grassroots organizing. Farm Aid granted $222,170 to family farm groups working to keep family farmers on the land and strengthen local and sustainable agriculture. An additional $20,000 supported scholarships for college students studying agriculture.
Throughout 2012, Farm Aid has been part of the national Just Label It Campaign and launched an online action enabling citizens to contact the FDA Commissioner to demand mandatory labels for Genetically Engineered (GE) foods.
With an historic drought affecting farmers throughout the country and threatening to increase world food prices, Farm Aid engaged its community in the development of a 2012 Farm Bill that supports farmers who are investing in resilient farm management and provides critical risk management tools for farmers facing disasters.
Additionally, Farm Aid convened farmers and farm organizations on issues such as food hubs and local and regional food system development; alternative financing for local and regional food systems; the challenges of beginning farmers; the value of family farmers; and the risks of GMOs.
Farm Aid Board of Directors
Farm Aid Board of Directors
Willie Nelson, President
Paul English, Treasurer
Lana Nelson, Secretary
Jess Rosen, Greenberg Traurig, Atlanta, GA
Cambridge Trust Company, Cambridge, MA
Bankers Trust, Des Moines, IA
Raffa, PC, Washington, DC
The Han Group, Washington, DC
2012 Farm Aid Staff
Carolyn Mugar, Executive Director
Glenda Yoder, Associate Director
Hilde Steffey, Program Director
Jennifer Fahy, Communications Director
Caroline Campbell McCormick, Operations Director
Cornelia Hoskin, HOMEGROWN Shepherdess
Matt Glidden, Web Marketing Manager
Kari Williams, Development Director
Joel Morton, Farm Advocate
Alicia Harvie, Program Manager
Caroline Malcolm, Member Services and Program Associate
Jennifer Wehunt, HOMEGROWN Manager
Kyle Foley, Program Intern