Down to Earth

In 1985 Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young organized a concert to benefit farmers and spread awareness of the crisis U.S. farmers were facing. Held in Champaign, Illinois, before a crowd of 80,000 people, the concert raised $7 million and spread awareness across the country. Since then Farm Aid has become a force advocating for farmers, promoting healthy, farm-grown food, providing a hotline and resource network, and giving a voice for policy change that benefits family farms over corporate conglomerates. They continue to produce a concert in a new location each year, and in recent years the concerts have become festivals featuring locally grown food and a goal of zero waste, sustainability and food organizations from all over the country, and of course abundant live music.
Today’s podcast features Jennifer Fahy, communications director for Farm Aid for over 20 years and community gardener.

Photo credits: Jennifer Fahy photo by Ebet Roberts, Willie Nelson photo by Suzanne Cordeiro

2’41 the origins of farm aid in 1985, big concert with Willie Nelson et al
4’13 raising both money and awareness about the farm crisis
6’38 the farm crisis in 1985 had to do with export markets, the “we feed the world” narrative, and the problem of unsustainable debt, the resulting foreclosures, and corporate consolidation
9’31 loss of farmer knowedge
10’13 Liz Carlisle’s book on traditional knowledge on US farms
11’24 how the foreclosure problem was fixed, the 1987 Farm Credit Act
12’20 the women who saved family farms on a grassroots level
13’40 Homeplace Under Fire documentary film
17’08 the rise of industrial livestock production and how that affected farmers
18’59 what that looks like in the poultry industry
20’52 the political solutions to these problems are cut off by corporate power
23’03 renewable energy development in rural land and how that affects farmers
27’37 the battle over local control about what happens on the land
30’39 the concert/festival has been going on since 1985
33’07 grants to BIPOC farmers
35’43 educating the public through the festival
38’43 many resources including Farmer Hotline, and new podcast, Against the Grain (include link)
40’21 Farm Bill 101