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, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews and Margo Price host an annual festival 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 $70 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.
Charity Watchdog Ratings
Charity watchdogs have established standards to measure the efficiency of how non-profits perform.
- Farm Aid earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator
- Farm Aid earned an ‘A’ rating from American Institute of Philanthropy’s charitywatch.org
- Farm Aid earned a Gold Seal of Transparency from Candid
- View Farm Aid’s 2021 IRS Form 990 here.
- View Farm Aid’s independent audited financial statements for 2021 and 2020.
- View Farm Aid’s IRS Letter of Determination and Form 1023 Exempt Status Application.
- 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.
Farm Aid Activities for 2022
The following Farm Aid programs accomplished our mission in 2022:
Promoting Food from Family Farms
The heart of Farm Aid’s work to promote food from family farms is our annual Farm Aid festival. Farm Aid 2022 was held at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 24. A crowd of 18,350 enjoyed performances by Farm Aid Board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, and Margo Price. Additional artists included Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Allison Russell, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charley Crockett, Brittany Spencer, Particle Kid, The Wisdom Indian Dancers and The Horse Hill Singers. All of the artists generously donated their time and travel expenses.
On September 24 at Farm Aid 2022:
- In Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Village, 33 farm and food groups engaged festivalgoers in hands-on, interactive activities about family farmers, soil, water and food production. At the Mini Farm, festivalgoers enjoyed the company of heritage breed farm animals. In the HOMEGROWN Skills Tent, festivalgoers took part in 6 workshops about mushroom and plant foraging, making natural dyes, lacto-fermentation and more. On the Farmyard Stage, farmers, activists and artists came together in conversation about the state of American agriculture, the challenges and opportunities of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers, and agriculture’s connection to climate change—both as a cause of climate change (industrial agriculture) and a remedy for climate change. Engaging people in a hands-on way in the HOMEGROWN Village and on the Farmyard Stage fosters deep awareness of key food and farm issues.
- Farm Aid partnered with Legends Hospitality to serve HOMEGROWN Concessions®: family farm-sourced food grown and raised with ecological standards and a fair price paid to farmers. HOMEGROWN Concessions® builds a strong relationship with farmers, food companies, ethnically diverse food vendors and sponsors. A total of 60 menu items featured family farm food, including many vegetable, fruit, meat and seafood ingredients from North Carolina and the Southeast.
- Many food companies and sponsors donated food for HOMEGROWN Catering backstage and in VIP areas. Chefs volunteered to serve their specialties for guests.
- The HOMEGROWN Youthmarket, a farm fresh stand operated by young people from National Grange and FFA, sold local apples, peaches and muscadine grapes to festivalgoers.
- 9,842 pounds of food and serviceware waste was collected to build soil for future crops.
- Farm Aid had a total of 360 volunteers, many of whom helped festivalgoers differentiate between landfill-bound trash, recyclables and compostables.
- Farm Aid sold reusable water bottles to reduce waste and aluminum water bottles were sold at concessions stands as well, with free water for refills. Festival t-shirts, made with certified organic cotton, were sold.
- Farm Aid partnered with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle for the donation of 7,601 pounds of grocery items and useable food remaining after the event.
- Corporate sponsors included DISH Network, Patagonia Workwear, Coastal Credit Union Foundation, Moink, Spindrift, Frontier Co-Op, Institute for Emerging Issues and Deep River Brewing Company.
- Farm Aid 2022 generated several major donations as well as individual gifts, including a $1 million donation made on stage by Jim Irsay.
Farm Aid 2022 emphasized the diversity of farmers and ranchers in the Southeast and across the nation, while shining a light on the ways in which farmers can help solve our climate crisis. Over the summer, Farm Aid staff visited farmers on farms across North and South Carolina and Georgia to film video spots that bring farmer voices to the Farm Aid stage, TV and web broadcasts, our website and social media. For the first time, we featured the stories of fishermen, drawing connections between their challenges and those of land farmers, particularly those challenges related to climate change. Featured farmers and fishers joined Farm Aid artists for the annual press event that kicks off each festival, sharing their stories and the ways in which they act as climate stewards on their farms and boats. Also on the press event stage, Farm Aid announced a major farmer mobilization being planned by the National Sustainable Agriculture Campaign (NSAC), Farm Aid and many other NSAC members, for March 2023. The artists on stage and audience members rose to their feet in support.
Farm Aid 2022 received significant local and regional media coverage, as well as national attention, including from the Raleigh News & Observer, Rolling Stone and Billboard. Coverage resulted in 917 print, online and broadcast media hits and 324 broadcast hits, resulting in nearly 1 million media impressions from announcement day through festival-week. Feature stories promoted the entertainment value of the festival, as well as the diversity of farmers and importance of family farm agriculture for all of us.
Farm Aid 2022 was broadcast live on Circle TV, a music-centric network, for the second time, with Farm Aid’s farmer stories and a call-to-action for donations and merchandise sales. Sirius XM satellite radio broadcast the entire concert live, with artists, family farmers and advocates interviewed between music sets. The festival was webcast live on www.farmaid.org and Farm Aid’s YouTube channel, with 53,556 views and a total watch time of 39,000 hours. The festival was additionally streamed on DISH Network and on Circle’s social media accounts.
The Farm Aid 2022 app for iPhone and Android provided festival details including the music lineup, stories about featured farmers, information about exhibits in the HOMEGROWN Village and the organizations presenting them, and the menu for HOMEGROWN Concessions®. The Farm Aid 2022 app was downloaded by 8,671 people who logged 62,047 sessions with an average session time of more than 6 minutes.
Farm Aid’s social media presence allowed people to share how they support family farmers and Farm Aid, reaching more than 18.4 million users on Twitter, resulting in 42 million impressions, and nearly 1 million more people on Facebook and Instagram, during the period between announcement and festival day.
Farmer Programming at Farm Aid 2022
Pre-festival events with farmers and farm advocates as the primary audience take place Thursday and Friday prior to the Farm Aid Festival. This year’s festival gave Farm Aid a unique opportunity to revisit the history and nostalgia of the last Farm Aid festival in the state in 2014, which brought BIPOC and small farmers, farmworkers and social justice activists to reflect on Southern movements for justice and equality to inform the future and nature of Farm Aid’s ongoing work.
The goal of the farmer forum, “Equity, Climate, Ag and The Way Forward,” was to bring together Farm Aid’s farmer base and partners to celebrate and uplift them as leaders who hold solutions to the impacts of climate change, while recognizing that climate change affects farmers and landscapes significantly and differently across the country. The forum featured three panels, each representing a diverse group of farmers in terms of race, region, perspective and lived experience.
Farm Aid intentionally highlighted and centered farmers of color, particularly reflecting on the narrative of Black farmland loss, reclamation and redemption; place-making was also a central piece of the forum. The purpose was to root ourselves in the culture and resilience of agriculture and farmers in the U.S. South in a way that would allow farmers from across the country to relate to how they are impeded and committed to the places they call home. This called for a recognition and acknowledgement of the ancestral and historical land stewardship of Indigenous and tribal communities that laid the foundation for the regenerative and restorative land practices Farm Aid, and the farm movement, uplifts today.
On Friday, farm tours organized by Farm Aid visited 5 farms and a theatre to view “The Smell of Money,” a documentary film about the environmental racism of factory hog farms in North Carolina’s Duplin County. During the farm tours and following the film screening, farmers and activists shared their experiences and knowledge with those in attendance. More than 150 attendees attended the Thursday farmer forum, Thursday seafood supper and fellowship and the Friday farm tours.
Our Year-Round Online Community
Farm Aid’s website informs and inspires the public through storytelling about America’s innovative family farmers, the challenges they face and the solutions they hold. In addition, it offers resources directly to farmers and shows readers how they can support family farmers every day in their own lives. FarmAid.org offers timely news and opportunities to engage in food and farm issues. In 2022, there were more than 1.7 million pages viewed on www.farmaid.org in 609,394 visits by 439,934 visitors.
Farm Aid communicated with our audience of more than 92,516 email subscribers and reached millions of people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The number of followers on these networks at the end of 2022 were: 150,201 followers on Facebook (with our post reach increasing by 304% over the previous year), 36,500 on Twitter, 41,209 on Instagram, and 564,298 on YouTube. Farm Aid’s YouTube channel features more than 2,400 videos, with 457,014,526 lifetime views.
Growing the Good Food Movement
In 2022, Farm Aid and our partners continued to implement strategies that bolster the Good Food Movement—the growing number of eaters demanding family farm-identified, local, organic or humanely raised food. Farm Aid awarded grants in the amount of $100,000 to organizations that strengthen infrastructure for local and regional food systems and raise awareness of their value. These grants support work to create new markets for farmers and enhance access to good food for everyone, regardless of race, color, national origin or zip code.
Helping Farmers Thrive
In 2022, farmers continued to deal with impacts of the pandemic and also faced the traditional challenges including competing in an ever-consolidating market that favors corporations; weather, including extreme weather and natural disasters exacerbated by climate change; rising input costs; market changes and the difficulty of earning a fair price. The strain in the farm economy is no accident; it is the result of policies designed to enrich corporations at the expense of farmers, ranchers and eaters. In response, Farm Aid continued to expand our direct farmer response and increased our advocacy of solutions to farm policy that needs a massive shift in direction—one that is equitable to all farmers and delivers fair prices and competitive markets that allow them to make a living.
Through the 1-800-FARM-AID Hotline and Online Request for Assistance, Farm Aid’s Hotline Operators listen to farmers and refer them to an extensive network of farm and rural support organizations across the country. Referrals provide immediate support to farm families in crisis and farmers seeking to transition to more sustainable farming practices, as well as for future farmers interested in beginning their farms. In 2022, Farm Aid received 829 contacts to the Hotline and Online Request for Assistance form, an increase of 40% from the previous year. By region, Farm Aid received 324 cases from the South; 199 from the Midwest; 164 from the West; and 119 from the Northeast.
In partnership with the Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN), Farm Aid hired a new Spanish Hotline Operator, Elizabeth Gonzalez-Ibarra, in October. This capacity on the Farm Aid Hotline is essential to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking farmers and farmworkers. Farm Aid is engaged in several marketing and outreach strategies to increase knowledge and create partnerships with Spanish/Farmworker organizations.
Farm Aid Hotline Operators completed many trainings throughout 2022 to strengthen their skills to respond to farmers including legal workshops, farm lending law, USDA programs, Appeals, Discrimination and Equitable Relief, in addition to Implicit Bias training.
Emergency grants totaling more than $42,500 were made in 2022 to farm families to cover essential household expenses. These $500 grants are recommended on a case-by-case basis by Farm Aid Hotline managers who also connect farmers with helpful services, resources and opportunities specific to their individual needs.
Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network offers an interactive website and database of more than 1,500 resources that provide guidance for new farmers, direct assistance to farmers in crisis, and support for farmers who wish to transition to more sustainable production methods and markets. Through the FRN, Farm Aid makes connections between individuals, farm service organizations, and businesses to address challenges and create opportunities for farmers. Farm Aid points farmers and advocates to our most trusted resources, new offerings and timely opportunities via our curated Resource Guides.
Thanks to the increased capacity of our hotline team, we better curate and increase the resources in the FRN; in 2022, the number of resources in the network was increased by 50%. The work to make the FRN more user-friendly and accessible is ongoing; in 2022 we improved the ways that organizations can share resources with Farm Aid and streamlined the process of adding new resources. We also focused on building out media resources (PDFs, webinars, etc.), and resources in Spanish.
Farm Aid awarded $399,000 in End of Year grants to organizations that help farmers secure the resources they need to begin farming, access new markets, grow sustainably and build resilience in the face of crisis and stress.
Taking Action to Change the System
Farm Aid works with local, regional and national organizations to promote fair farm policies and grassroots organizing efforts. Farm Aid granted $515,000 to family farm organizations working to ensure competitive markets for family farmers, address antitrust and contract violations, fight factory farms, strengthen the grassroots around a unified vision for our farm and food system and amplify an effective farmer voice to reform the food system.
On the Thursday before the annual Farm Aid festival, Farm Aid hosted a Farmer Forum, “Equity, Climate and Agriculture: The Way Forward,” with more than 150 participants taking part. The Forum was an opportunity to engage in a productive and thoughtful dialogue between farmers, advocates, activists and policymakers. Farmers and ranchers from across the country shared their stories, challenges and opportunities. They asked critical questions and raised crucial points about the ways our food system is failing to best honor farmers, ranchers, eaters and our climate, soil and water. They proposed solutions for how to tackle some of the most pressing and complex issues our country faces.
Farm Aid’s credit working group, made up of people directly serving farmers through one-on-one advocacy in addition to experts in farm credit and agricultural law, continued to offer and press for reforms that could be made administratively at USDA. The working group meets weekly and has had numerous meetings with top USDA officials to push for changes that make USDA programs and credit more accessible to farmers, especially underserved farmers, with better outcomes for family farmers.
Throughout the year, Farm Aid lent our voice and other support to efforts to change our farm and food system, including:
- Partnering with the Intertribal Agriculture Council to support a new rule to prevent unfair lending practices in agriculture that persist and continue to create deep inequity in land ownership and access, slash diversity in agriculture and impoverish rural communities;
- Advocating for transparency in poultry grower contracting and protection of whistleblowers, who play a crucial role in exposing the ways in which our farm and food system harms farmers, workers and eaters;
- Speaking out against federal funding for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and manure digesters that create factory farm gas;
- Calling on President Biden to demand a transformative Farm Bill that centers racial justice, ends huger and increasing access to healthy food, meets the climate crisis head on and ensures the safety of food and farm workers, farmers and consumers, and our entire food system;
- Supporting the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health to chart policies that will support a universally sustainable, healthful and equitable food system;
- Calling for support of the Farm and Stress Assistance Network, a federal program that has brought awareness and resources to the challenge of farmer stress and rural mental health;
- Calling for increased conservation and climate friendly agriculture funding as well as increased funding to expand local livestock processing; and
- Fighting for regulations to ensure a fair marketplace for America’s family farmers and ranchers.
Farm Aid continues to serve as a leader and contributing member of various collaborative efforts to change our farm and food system and advance the power and participation of farmers in these efforts. These have included efforts to address economic and social injustices across animal agriculture; to elevate on-the-ground solutions to climate change; to build the supply of non-GMO food ingredients and animal feed in the U.S.; and to promote regenerative agriculture.
Farm Aid also continues its leadership in the philanthropic community to bring funders’ attention to the varied challenges faced by family farmers and to encourage collaboration and collective problem solving.
Other Granting and Total Granting
In response to natural disasters, Farm Aid made multiple grants through its Family Farm Disaster Fund. $40,000 assisted farm and ranch families impacted by record historic flooding in Kentucky and a destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico. Farm Aid compiled timely and accessible disaster resources in response to wildfires across the West, drought conditions, extreme flooding in Kentucky and Hurricane Ian in Florida.
A $12,000 grant to Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association (MOFGA) helped them administer emergency funding to farms as a replacement for lost business income due to contamination of their soil and water by widely used, long lasting chemicals called PFAs.
Strategic grants totaling $67,000 enabled long-term Farm Aid partners to address pressing needs or take advantage of unique opportunities to advance family farm agriculture. For example, with Farm Aid funding, Land Stewardship Project was able to fight to protect Winona County’s water supply and the livelihood of family farmers from factory farm expansion through community organizing and public education. Farmers’ Legal Action Group was able to heighten its focus on working with USDA to improve critical farm support, such as loan forgiveness and farm credit.
Farm Aid’s Agricultural Scholarship Fund granted $21,000 in agricultural-related scholarships to students at three universities during 2022.
Finally, $11,600 in farmer leadership grants supported farmer participation in leadership trainings, policy advocacy and other gatherings where their perspectives and knowledge are essential to tackle some of our nation’s biggest farm and food challenges.
In total, Farm Aid made grants in the amount of $1.2 million during 2022. Farm Aid prioritized grant proposals from organizations that facilitate farmer-led solutions to climate change, support family farmers, advance racial equity and social justice, and build power for systemic change in our farm and food system.
Management & Development
Farm Aid is fortunate to be in a stable financial position, due to several years of incredible support from our Board and festival artists, donors and Farm Aid fans. Our annual festival continues to be the primary source of revenue. Additionally, Farm Aid benefits from generous foundation and corporate support, particularly for our farmer services work and FRSAN engagement, for which we have received USDA funding that enables us to expand our capacity for outreach, advocacy and direct services for farmers and farm service providers.
Farm Aid invested in increasing our organizational capacity through workforce development and added several positions in 2022, including Shorlette Ammons, Program Director; Michael Stewart Foley, Cultural Impact Director; and Cristina Sandolo, Grants Manager. At the end of 2022, Farm Aid’s staff comprised 14 full time employees, 4 part-time employees and additional outsourced accounting and technology support. Farm Aid continues to evolve to meet the needs of a remote and hybrid work environment, including developing and refining administrative systems to improve efficiency and effectiveness in our organizational operations.
Farm Aid’s work is bolstered by the support of thousands of people from across the country who stand up for our family farmers and ranchers every day. Through our events, campaigns, and conversations, Farm Aid seeks to forge relationships with our donor base and better understand the many reasons that drive their support of Farm Aid. Our fundraising philosophy reflects the spirit and values of Farm Aid, and our founder and president, Willie Nelson, prioritizing efforts to tend and grow our donor community from the grassroots up.
Our 2022 fundraising efforts kicked off with a return to Willie and Annie Nelson’s ranch, Luck, TX, for the PotLuck dinner and Luck Reunion festival. Farm Aid was fortunate to be one of three non-profit beneficiaries that received proceeds from the PotLuck, a special dinner event and intimate performance by Willie under the Texas hill country stars on the eve of the Luck Reunion. At the Luck Reunion, Farm Aid co-moderated a panel on the Luck Food Stage with Farm Aid artist Nathaniel Rateliff and three farmers who spoke candidly about their farming experiences.
Farm Aid continued to diversify our revenue-generating activities through an expansion of our Soundwaves Art Foundation collection, a sweepstakes contest for a Farm Aid VIP festival experience through a partnership with Fandiem and our annual experience and memorabilia auctions. Thank you to Gibson Foundation, Graphic Guitar Guys and the graciousness of the Farm Aid artists who take the time to sign these valuable auction items at the festival.
The Farm Aid VIP Experience program at the festival continued to generate critical revenue with record sales of more than $525,000, an increase of more than 15% from the previous festival. Additionally, our festival fundraising efforts brought in 213% more contributed revenue than in 2021. This increase was due in large part to a $1 million donation from Jim Irsay which was presented on stage at Farm Aid 2022. Notably, our Farm Aid 2022 memorabilia auction raised nearly 50% more than the auction in 2021 thanks to generous bids from Farm Aid fans.
The year concluded with a strong showing in our annual end-of-year campaign that began with Giving Tuesday and continued through the end of December. Our Giving Tuesday and end-of-year campaign has grown year-over-year, and 2022 was no exception. The campaign raised more than $250,000 – 45% more than in 2021, with increases in each fundraising initiative during the period and the highest median and average gifts of any prior end-of-year campaign.
Thank you to our dedicated donors. It is because of the generosity of our community that Farm Aid is strengthened to cultivate a vibrant, equitable and resilient family farm-centered system of agriculture in America that benefits all of us.