No farms, no food

By: sonofabeach96

Sep 22 2015

Category: Uncategorized


On this date in 1985, the very first Farm-Aid benefit concert was held in Champaign, IL, at the University of Illinois football stadium.  The 1980’s saw farmers suffering from plights not seen since the Great Depression.   The issues surrounding farming and farmers took center-stage at, of all places, Live-Aid, a multi-site benefit concert for African hunger relief.

On July 13, 1985, Bob Dylan took the stage at Live-Aid and said, “I hope that some of the money that’s raised for the people in Africa, maybe they could just take a little bit of it, maybe…one or two million…to pay the mortgages on some of the farms.”  Live-Aid organizer Bob Geldoff called Dylan’s statement “crass, stupid, and nationalistic”.  Some saw it as insensitive, considering the massive suffering in Africa.  However, other musicians were in agreement with Dylan.  Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young being chief among them.  They initiated their own benefit concert, Farm-Aid.

The initial concert featured over 50 artists who performed at their own expense.  The 14-hour show was attended by 78,000 people, many of whom were farmers, and some were “hired” as food vendors.  The initial benefit raised $9 million for relief aid, a farming hotline service, and assistance for destitute farmers in need of legal help and job assistance.  Willie Nelson had a goal of raising $50 million dollars, an amount that was not nearly reached.  But, most involved say the monetary amounts were not nearly as important as raising awareness to the plight of small farmers and their families, by both the general public as well as the federal government.  John Mellencamp said, “If nothing else, forget the money.  We are here for awareness.”

That awareness resulted in people learning that in the 1980’s, farmers faced drought-ravaged fields, plunging property values, soaring interest rates, and 1,000’s were forced from their land through foreclosure and bankruptcy.  In addition, the number of farmer-related suicides in the Upper Midwest reached double the national average.  It also thrust farm bills and policies into the spotlight, and Neil Young and Willie Nelson would personally appeal to Congress for reform in the days prior to Farm-Aid.  Neil Young took out a full-page ad asking President Reagan “will the family farm in America die as a result of your administration?”

The benefit is still going strong, this year being its 30th go ’round, being held in Chicago on September 19.  Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp are still members of the Board of Directors, along with Dave Matthews, who joined the board in 2001.  Neil Young gives speeches on the state of the environment at every show.  Farm Aid holds a trust fund that assists farmers who’ve lost belongings and crops through natural disaster.  Thus far, Farm Aid benefits have raised nearly $40 million.  Oh, and there’s a ground swell of support to nominate Willie Nelson for a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts with the organization.

This is an organization that I believe in and support wholeheartedly.  My father-in-law was raised on a family farm and eventually had his own farm for over 30 years.  I live in an agricultural centered community, and have for 15 years.  All of my “neighbors” are family farmers.  Things have been rough at times for them.  From droughts, to floods, to giant mega-farm organizations like Monsanto and ConAgra attempting to take over food production with their genetically modified wheat, corn, and soy, the world of being a family farmer is a perilous one.  But this is who they are.  They’ve likely been on land that their great grandfathers tilled.  They are intelligent, diligent, determined, and resilient.  They are to be admired, and, hopefully, emulated by the children that will carry on the tradition.  And without them, where would we all be?  Please, support your local farmers.  Buy their produce, eat their beef, and shop their farmers markets.  Remember, no farms, no food!

In honor of that first show, and the 3 guys who stood up, took a stand, and created an iconic American event meant to help these essential American families, my songs of the day are:

“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young

“Rain On The Scarecrow” by John Mellencamp

“Heartland” by Willie Nelson

26 comments on “No farms, no food”

  1. I remember it very well! It was so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Harvest Moon is one of my all time favorites! And this post is so true. It’s either you go big or move to town and give up your family’s heritage. It’s sad, really and a struggle for most farmer’s, especially when it has been dry like it has been here. Hay and grain costs have gone up dramatically here, you can see your dreams and plans for the future blow away in the wind just because of the weather! I am a firm believer in the 100 mile diet-anything and everything in my freezer is bought locally and I never dicker on their price either. They work hard to make it and shouldn’t be short changed. Great insight you have SOB. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Constant battle to stay solvent. So many factors working against them, yet they persevere. People have no idea how much effort, time, and sweat go into that hamburger and corn at the store. And these farming giants with their lab-like veggies and hormone infested livestock are the biggest threat of all. All of our nearest neighbors have survived but some go down everyday across the country. Then a developer puts a subdivision in. Who the fuck buys a house in the country…IN A SUBDIVISION?!?!?! Makes no sense. You move an hour out of the nearest lathe city then cram yourselves up each others ass!?!? Stupid!

      Liked by 3 people

    • And then bitch about the smell when the few farmers still near them fertilize in the spring and fall. Or because the chickens wake them up in the morning! Go back to the city you assholes!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is why I try to buy local – farmers markets and I get a crop share every year. Plus the food tastes better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was at the show in Louisville, it was surreal experience to say the least. Dave Matthews band and Hootie and the Blowfish were just starting and I think most of Cardinal Stadium was stoned or hammered by the end of the night.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It always makes me laugh how self righteous Bob Geldof is. Since he’s Saint Bob to so many people it took someone of Dylan’s stature to call him out and get away with it. All I think when I hear his name is how he basically harassed his ex-wife Paula and Michael Hutchence to death and then stole their daughter through the British courts from Michael’s Australian family. Then he got estranged from his daughter Peaches and she died of an overdose. He is no Saint Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Come to think of it, their should be a new Farm Aid for California Farmers. Figure out someway to build a water pipeline with that money from the east coast to the Central Valley. The farmers here have it BAD but they’re trying.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. *there

    Liked by 1 person

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