Bob Dylan struck a nerve when he said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we did something for our own farmers right here in America?” at Live Aid, the concert for Africa. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp agreed that America needed to realize the importance of family farmers and fight to keep them on the land. And they did something about it, planning a concert for America Six weeks later the first Farm Aid concert was held on September 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois, before a crowd of nearly 80,000 people. Performers included Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Petty and many more.
Today, Farm Aid works to achieve our mission 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 the annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. With the support of the artists (nearly 400 to date!) who contribute their performances each year, Farm Aid has raised nearly $60 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.
With music as our inspiration and farmers as our heroes, Farm Aid envisions a transformed America in which family farmers and eaters are partners in a thriving farm and food system that benefits all.