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Farm Aid Fixtures Seek to Reap a Helping Harvest for the Nation's Battered Heartland

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Since 1985, Farm Aid's annual concerts have been instrumental in funding the cause and raising awareness. It's the spring of 2020 and more festivals continue to be cancelled because of Covid-19. However, the important work of Farm Aid must go on. So, like many artists its organizers decided to live stream an event which took place on April 11, 2020.

Farm Aid Fixtures Seek to Reap a Helping Harvest for the Nation's Battered Heartland
John Mellencamp and Lukas Nelson in Nashville in 2019.

Farm Aid is a nonprofit group whose mission is to keep families on the land by endorsing the good food movement, political action and supporting rural communities. They do this by working with local, regional and national organizations to promote fair farm policies paired with grassroots campaigns designed to bolster family farm-centered agriculture.

Farm Aid has partnered with farmers to protest factory farms and inform eaters about issues like genetically modified food and growth hormones. By strengthening the power of local land owners, Farm Aid stands up for the people upon whom we all depend on (now more than ever). In addition, their online Farmer Resource Network connects folks to an extensive network of organizations across the country that helps farmers find the resources they need to access new markets, transition to more sustainable and profitable farming practices, and survive natural disasters.

Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert back in 1985 to shine a light on the loss of family farms and to raise money to keep folks on the land. Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001 to add his voice to this important cause. With the assistance of AXS-TV the core four presented a live stream on Saturday, April 11, 2020 followed by the Best of Farm Aid 2019 aired on Sunday. Both shows were fund raisers for the cause.

Willie flanked by his sons Lukas and Micah were the hosts on the 11th. They stated that small farmers are essential workers and because of the current crisis they are having a hard time reaching farmers markets and restaurants who are their core customers. During the broadcast they continued to mention the struggles of the agricultural community even in the best of times and why supporting them and Farm Aid is necessary.

All four sets of music were acoustic and subdued. Dave Mathews kicked things off with a Willie Nelson cover along with "Satellite". He commented that time has been twisted as he tried to recall when he wrote a new song which he played to conclude his segment. It was a compelling piece about being in the now and wondering what is on the other side of this.

John Mellencamp speculated on what people might be doing during this time. His set included the abiding "Jack and Diane" along with 1985's "Rain on the Scarecrow" which so vividly tells the story of a family losing their farm. Neil Young shared clips of projects he has been working on - all filmed in black, gray and white which was appropriate as was the tune "Helpless".

Nelson with his two musical sons included the classic "On the Road Again" during their set of music along with a video that outlined the work that Farm Aid does. The live stream was effective in presenting music and their mission and we hope that folks who enjoyed the broadcast on AXS TV were able to make a contribution to this worthy organization.

Related Links: For more information on FARM AID and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Farm Aid | John Mellencamp at the Ryman | Lukas Nelson at The Last Waltz

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