Star-studded benefit show now in its third decade

Some of the biggest names in country and pop music took to the stage in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania on Saturday to raise money for American farmers in the longest-running aid concert in the country: Farm Aid.

After more than three decades of providing aid and resources to American farmers, Farm Aid has raised more than $50 million. The annual charity concert started in 1985 as a way to bring attention to the plight of family farmers, many of whom were being economically devastated by corporate farms. Now in its 32nd year, Farm Aid provides resources for crisis and legal support, sustainable farming, and other issues that affect those who provide food for the rest of the country.

“The original purpose of Farm Aid was to bring some awareness to the fact that the farmer was in trouble,” Willie Nelson said during a video presentation on the Farm Aid website.

Farm Aid provides services year round, but the nonprofit organization relies on its annual concert to bring the bulk of its funding. Past performers include Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Bonnie Raitt, Phish, Wilco, Brooks & Dunn, and the Allman Brothers. Even polka superstar Jimmy Sturr appeared in New York when the concert, which travels throughout the country, was there in 2007.

For the first time since 2002, founders of the benefit concert, including Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, returned to KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown, which is near the city of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 16. They were joined by a star-studded array of musicians, including Dave Matthews (performing with Tim Reynolds), a Farm Aid board member since 2001; the Avett Brothers; Sheryl Crow; and Jack Johnson. Even Willie’s son, Lukas Nelson, showed up with his band the Promise of the Real.

“Farm Aid is an important part of keeping American family farmers and sustainable family farms alive,” Lukas Nelson says. “It’s important to keep factory farms and chemical giants at bay. I think it’s a constant fight, and it needs to keep happening until we don’t need to fight anymore.”

Farm Aid addresses or promotes the following issues:

• The risk of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in agriculture.

• The political influence of agricultural conglomerates and the limitation of food choices.

• How to deal with soil, climate and water problems.

• The benefits of buying food from family farms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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