Willie Nelson Announces ‘Farm Aid 2013′
For the 28th year, country music icon Willie Nelson and rock legends John Mellencamp and Neil Young are teaming together for Farm Aid, a benefit concert for family farmers in America. This year's event will take place in upstate New York on September 21st. Tickets will go on sale June 28th.
Co-founders Nelson, Mellencamp and Young are slated to perform at Farm Aid 2013 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, as is singer Dave Matthews, who has been on the organization's board of directors for the past 12 years. No other acts have been announced yet, but expect another 5-8 artists to be added to the performance schedule.
According to Times Union, in Nelson's announcement of the 26th concert in 28 years, he stated,
"Every time we have a Farm Aid, a lot of farmers show up and say, 'Hey, keep it going,' so it's not a hard decision for us...Congress is not doing anything right now except taking a lot of lunch breaks.".
Willie was quick to shift the focus to the reason for the benefit, though, and stressed the importance of what Farm Aid does for small farmers in the United States:
"A lot of people know about farmers today that didn't know about (them before), and that's all we're trying to do - call attention to the problem that farmers need help...More people are asking about where did their breakfast come from. Did it come from 1,500 miles away when a farmer next door could be growing it for them?"
Since its founding in 1985, Farm Aid has raised $43 million to support programs that help small farmers, expand the awareness of issues facing family farms and promote the food produced by the nation's approximately two million family farms.
One of the big reasons for holding the concert in New York this year is because there's a continuing debate in the state's farm country over shale gas development, which is under a moratorium while state officials conduct an environmental and health review. Some farmers see gas leases as a potential way out of their financial struggles, while others oppose gas drilling for fear of accidents causing water and air pollution. Willie Nelson is anti-shale gas development.
"I'm against it. It's bad for the land, bad for the farmers, bad for the soil. It's just all-around a bad idea."
The general consensus, though, is that If farmers could make a living farming, they wouldn't feel pressured to find other ways to make ends meet, including leasing their land for drilling. Wilie agrees, saying, "We need to guarantee farmers a living wage for what they do.".