Willie, Neil, John and Dave kicked off Farm Aid 2012 with a press conference at the Ice Palace at Hersheypark Stadium. The Farm Aid board artists spoke to fans, farmers and the media about good food, politics and the future of family farms.
Dave Matthews raved about food hubs and urged the audience to support their neighbors and buy local whenever possible. To the far left of Dave sat Jenn Halpin, this month’s Farmer Hero. Jenn spoke on her experience with providing food for her community and Dickinson College. Jenn and Dave believe that the future of agribusiness will depend on community interaction.
Willie and Neil urged the audience members to take a more proactive stance on government actions, especially with the stall on the 2012 Farm Bill. Neil then noticed a farmer activist in the crowd waving a sign. The longtime rocker shouted into the crowd, “There’s someone here who wants you to know about fracking!” Neil advised the farmer to start organizing a movement in his community because there isn’t enough attention on the issue. Neil also suggested that children should be educated on fracking and all other food issues.
At that point, Jack Johnson stepped in to share his thoughts on the food culture in Hawaii. He continued on a similar thread as Neil. Jack spoke in favor of educating children on where their food comes from, an idea John Mellencamp definitely supports. Throughout the conference, John commented on the dangers consumers are exposed to when they eat foods, but don’t research ingredients or the food’s origin.
All of the artists agreed that more efforts need to be made to involve younger generations, especially if family farms are to survive. Innovations like food hubs, farmers markets and community supported agriculture are needed to revitalize the farming industry. Willie, Neil, John and Dave are more than willing to continue helping family farmers. “We’re not going anywhere,” said Neil.