E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Neil Young at 15th FARM AID Concert:'We'll be back next year, and the year after that...We're not giving up!'

(Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2002 -- CropChoice news) --

We carry this courtesy of the AgriBusiness Examiner ( http://www.ea1.com/CARP


The trial balloon was floated by John Hansen, the secretary of the National Farmers Union, yesterday at a backstage pow-wow kicking off the 15th Farm Aid concert [September 22] at the Post-Gazette Pavilion.

Willie, with his jar of chocolate milk in front of him, laughed and warded off the proposal by using two fingers to make a cross.

You're right, Willie. You're way too important as a musician and a legend to waste your time in the White House. Plus, there's that whole issue of inhaling.

Indeed, it's probably enough of a commitment to the nation that Nelson has been the heart and soul of Farm Aid since founding the organization with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985. If there were any question that they still care deeply about this cause 17 years later, it was dispelled by the fiery rhetoric at the pre-concert press gathering.

"I grew up in a small town and I still live there," Mellencamp said, echoing one of biggest hits. "I have seen how corporate America has changed the face of our nation. We can have all the concerts we want, but if you guys want a better place, it starts with one person and that's you."

Making a very rare appearance in front of the media, Neil Young was particularly animated in his plea for personal responsibility as policy.

"Attention Shoppers! Attention Shoppers!" Young hollered on stage and off. "Buy with a conscience and save the family farm! Go to the right place and buy the right food. It's just as easy as going to the wrong place and buying the wrong food."

The right places, according to Young, are farmers markets and natural food stores. The wrong place would be where most people actually go -- the big supermarkets. Young, who played an acoustic set later in the evening, also threw down a challenge to the media:

"Don't write about who played or what anybody wore. Try to write about the real issues."

While the likes of Lee Ann Womack (with Willie sitting in), Drive-By Truckers and Keith Urban played the starred-and-striped stage in the early going, the issues were being discussed back in the tent.

Farmers and farm lobbyists from across the country joined local farmers in making the case for the family farm. They discussed in great detail their dissatisfaction with the federal farm bill passed last year. They talked about the subsidies for the corporate farms, dangers of irradiated foods, drought affecting 50% of the nation's farmland, and genetically modified corn.

Larry Mitchell, CEO of the American Corn Growers Association, said the golden rule applies in Washington: "Them's that got the gold, get to rule."

John Kinsman, a 76-year-old dairy farmer from Wisconsin, noted that he lived through the 1930s and, "we lived better then than we do now. We weren't working 18 hours a day to keep our farm." Kinsman said Farm Aid has been a huge help by giving money to the unions and farm organizations that help counsel farmers when they're desperate.

On the artistic side, the Farm Aid founders continue to take steps to assure that a newer generation gets involved. New board member Dave Matthews, he of the happy feet and grim poetics, dazzled with an acoustic set last night that he adapted to Farm Aid. He also pounded away at the day's mantra of "good food."

"This country has done lots of great things and gone through a lot of hardships," he told the crowd, and added, "I think we have to save the family farms without the government."

Kid Rock, who rocked with a capital R, might not be destined for the board of anything, but he certainly knew where the biggest concert in the world was happening yesterday.

"I'm here to learn more about this today," he said, "to observe some of greatest cats to make music ever, help this wonderful cause out and rock the [bleepin'] house." . . . . .

Yes, the White House isn't getting Willie Nelson anytime soon. Willie and the boys are sticking with Farm Aid as their tool.

"We'll be back next year," said Young. "And the year after that. We're not giving up."