The Spirit of Farm Aid Award

Farm Aid is the sum of the incredible people who are part of it. Recently, Farm Aid has begun to formally recognize the individuals who have contributed in meaningful ways to the organization over the course of our rich history. In 2017, we launched the “Spirit of Farm Aid” awards.

The awards acknowledge – in a small, deeply grateful way – those people who embody what Farm Aid stands for. We look to recognize these people for their tireless efforts to promote the organization’s mission and values through contributions of their time and talent on behalf of America’s family farmers.

We honor these long-time friends, advisors and partners of the organization at the annual Farm Aid Eve benefit which occurs the evening before each Farm Aid festival. The event brings together new and existing members of the Farm Aid community to share their stories over music and family farm food. Recipients of the Spirit of Farm Aid award receive a framed “Lifetime All Access” pass, which is meant to demonstrate that they are, and will always be, a cherished member of the Farm Aid community.

2022 Spirit of Farm Aid Recipients

The fourth annual Spirit of Farm Aid awards were presented at Farm Aid Eve on September 23, 2022, in Raleigh, NC, to the following honorees:

Advocate

Awarded to Savonala “Savi” Horne, Executive Director of the Land Loss Prevention Project of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers.

Artist

Awarded to Grammy-nominated guitarist Tim Reynolds, who has generously donated his performances alongside Dave Matthews on the Farm Aid stage for many years.

Farmer/Activist

Awarded to Craig Watts, a former contract poultry grower-turned-whistleblower who now works to mobilize communities against industrial livestock operations with the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.

Production

Awarded to Farm Aid’s longtime Production Manager Charlie Hernandez, co-founder of Just a Bunch of Roadies, which harnesses the skills of music industry professionals to respond to critical needs worldwide.

Superhero

Awarded to Adam Baker, who has worked tirelessly as production volunteer at the annual Farm Aid festival for over ten years.


2019 Spirit of Farm Aid Recipients

The third annual Spirit of Farm Aid awards were presented at Farm Aid Eve on September 20, 2019, in Lake Geneva, WI, to the following honorees:

Advocate

Awarded to Benny Bunting, a North Carolina farmer and the Lead Farm Advocate at RAFI-USA, who has counseled hundreds of farmers, devoting an average of 60 hours to each client and helping more than ninety percent of them realize their goals.

Farmer/Activist

Awarded to Joel Greeno, Wisconsin farmer and President of Family Farm Defenders.

In Memoriam

Awarded posthumously to Mona Lee Brock who became a farm crisis counselor in 1980s after she and her husband lost their farm during the Farm Crisis and saved the lives of many farmers.

Production

Awarded to Karl Adams, Senior Vice President of Live Nation and dedicated supporter of the annual Farm Aid festivals.

Artist

Awarded to Mike Wanchic, John Mellencamp’s longtime guitarist and co-producer who has donated his time and talent on stage at Farm Aid since 1985.


2018 Spirit of Farm Aid Recipients

The second annual Spirit of Farm Aid awards were proudly distributed at Farm Aid Eve on September 21, 2018, in Hartford, CT, to the following honorees:

Advocate

Awarded to David Senter, current President of the American Agriculture Movement, former farmer and voice for family farm agriculture

Advocate

Awarded posthumously to Ralph Paige of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, for his enormous contribution on behalf of black farmers and rural landowners across the Southeast

Artist

Awarded to CMA-winning artist and songwriter Jamey Johnson, who has given his time and talent in support of family farmers at eleven Farm Aid concerts

Farmer

Awarded to Rhonda Perry and Roger Allison who represent the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which works to organize against factory farms, and Patchwork Family Farms, a cooperative of family farm pork producers who represent the alternative to factory farm pork

Production

Awarded to Ron Stern, who has been one of the producers of Farm Aid since its founding in 1985


2017 Spirit of Farm Aid Recipients

The first Spirit of Farm Aid award ceremony was at Farm Aid Eve on September 15, 2017, in Pittsburgh, PA, and the recipients were in three categories:

Advocate

Awarded posthumously to Kathy Ozer, Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition, who expanded the movement for farmer justice to include the rights of farmworkers, the livelihoods of fisher-men and -women, and the broader fight for racial and social justice

Artist

Awarded to the illustrious composer and instrumentalist David Amram, who grew up in a farm community milking cows, and who has played as a special guest as part of Willie’s set at every Farm Aid concert

Farmer

Awarded to Corky Jones, past President of the American Agriculture Movement, Nebraska farmer and voice for family farm agriculture


Photos of Spirit of Farm Aid Award Recipients

Click on the photos below to enlarge them.

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