I’m always excited to write and tell you when and where the next Farm Aid festival will be. It gives me a chance to remind folks why I started Farm Aid with my friends Neil and John in the first place and why it’s important to bring people together to celebrate family farmers through music and food.
The reasons for the farm crisis we’re in now are similar to what family farmers faced in the 1980s. Almost all of the reasons are out of farmers’ control: low crop prices pushing farm income down year after year; terrible weather disasters that just won’t quit; trade wars so farmers can’t even sell what they do grow. These all put a terrible strain on family farmers, yet they still have fields to tend and animals to care for. That’s the part about farming that they love and what they keep on doing no matter what.
As we get ready to gather for Farm Aid 2019 this fall, I hope you’ll remember why we need family farmers on the land. We need them because they know how to grow the good food that sustains us. We need them because they know how to take care of the soil and water in our communities. We need them because their hard work supports local economies. We all need their know-how, now more than ever. There’s something wrong in this country when we turn our backs on family farmers.
This year, the Farm Aid festival will take place on September 21 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. I’ll be there in the heart of dairy country to stand again with family farmers, joined by my fellow Farm Aid board members, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, as well as many other generous artists who will give their time and talent to celebrate good food and the people and places it comes from. I hope you’ll be able to join us—either in person, in spirit or watching at home.
The Farm Aid festival is a day I look forward to all year long, just like you and the many fans, volunteers and farmers who return year after year. With the current farm crisis deepening, farmers need the support of each and every one of us right now.
We’ve had quite an impact since we founded Farm Aid in 1985—new farmers have come on the land, young people see a future in farming once again, a whole movement of people is motivated to seek out and ask for family farm food! And yet, family farmers still face an uphill battle to stay on the land. Today, we are losing them at an alarming rate. Wisconsin’s dairy farms have been hit especially hard. Nearly 700 closed last year alone, and in the last decade the number of dairy farms in the state has dropped more than 40%.
Won’t you join me in standing up for family farmers—in person at Farm Aid 2019 in Wisconsin or by making a donation today? With your generous gift of $75 or more, we’ll send you an official Farm Aid 2019 baseball cap so you can proudly show your support for family farmers everywhere.
Farmers have long been used to uncertainty. Prices fluctuate; crop pests and diseases come and go; and uncooperative weather and natural disasters, which are increasing in severity and frequency thanks to climate change, strike—all out of farmers’ control. But the biggest threat to family farmers remains a small group of large corporations that just keep getting bigger. And that is under our control—or should be! They’re using the power of political influence to seize control of our food system, promote farm policies that favor them and that hurt independent farmers. That’s not fair, it’s not right, and we need to do something about it. That’s why your gift to Farm Aid matters.
Here in the Farm Aid office, calls to our hotline more than doubled last year and most of these callers were in desperate need of crisis assistance. This year the pace is even worse. We’ll keep being here to answer the call for family farmers. While the festival occurs just one day a year, Farm Aid works every single day to keep farmers on the land. But we can’t do it without you.
The Farm Aid festival is an opportunity for us to join together and fight for family farmers, and your gift to Farm Aid shows that you stand united with them. Your donation connects farmers to critical resources they can use to access new markets, as well as to access credit, land, legal advice, financial counseling and other tools they need to thrive.
Beyond our work with individual farmers, your donation helps us work for policies that benefit family farmers, not just the big corporations. It also helps us bring more people to this mission to keep family farmers on the land. It’s going to take all of us!
I hope that you are able to join us in Wisconsin on September 21. And I hope that you’ll continue to support Farm Aid and our mission to keep family farmers on the land.
Stay Strong and Positive,
President, Farm Aid