Farm Aid's Nelson: Americans need to back family farm

Sun Oct 3, 2010 8:47am EDT
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By John Rondy

MILWAUKEE (Reuters Life!) - Thousands turned out on Saturday for the 25th anniversary of "Farm Aid," the benefit concert for America's family farmers headlined by the charity's founders: Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young.

This year's hours-long concert, dubbed "Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America," was held at Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.

The founding musicians, who gathered under a canopy outside the stadium to meet with reporters before the concert, praised family farmers as practitioners of sustainable agriculture while portraying corporate-run farms as greedy polluters contributing to the nation's obesity problem.

"We should be interested in knowing where our food comes from. If it comes from soil that is organic, that is grown by our family farmers, we know that it's more healthy than the food grown by big corporations that saturate the soil with chemicals and pesticides and fertilizers," said Nelson, sporting a trademark cowboy hat and a jacket in the chilly air.

"Thank you for those farmers who are doing their part, doing organic farming, and who need our support. That's why we're here, 25 years in a row," he said.

Concert vendors at the accompanying "HOMEGROWN" village adjacent to the venue sold fresh produce from local farms and displayed sustainable agricultural practices such as small-scale livestock raising, beekeeping, and composting.

Young railed at what he said was the "poisoning" of the environment by corporate-run, confinement hog farms, and urged government to regulate what he said was a chaotic biofuels industry.

Mellencamp decried the greed that he said was hurting the nation's farmers, and expressed concern America was becoming "more tribal ... almost a Third World nation."   Continued...