Farm Aid 2005

Supporting family farms and organics

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Top: The Farm Aid board of directors and others at the 20th Anniversary Concert. Lower left: Goodness Greeness’ refrigerated truck traveled from Champaign to Chicago collecting food from Illinois farms for delivery to Farm Aid’s 20th Anniversary Concert.

On Sept. 17, with Farm Aid 2005 ready to go the next day, the Chicago Tribune ran a story claiming that Farm Aid does not apply significant funds to really help family farmers. The folks at Farm Aid were outraged, as is this reporter. I have been involved with Farm Aid since 1990. I can tell you from personal experience that Farm Aid does help family farmers to save their farms. I invite the Tribune to interview me the next time they try to slam this wonderful organization.

Despite the article. Farm Aid was a success and continues to be. Their response and data on their finances can be found on their website at www.farmaid.org. Eighty cents of every Farm Aid dollar goes to programs supporting family farmers, including grants that help keep them on their land. From their farmer hotline to convening national gatherings of family farmers to conducting public awareness campaigns, Farm Aid is proud to exceed the standards set by charity watchdog groups that monitor non-profit performance.

The 20th Anniversary Farm Aid concert was held September 18 in Tinley Park, Ill. More than 30,000 people attended, and thousands more tuned in to the online webcast. It is not too late to see the concert or to donate. The concert is scheduled to be televised starting on Thanksgiving Day, November 24. The broadcast will air on INHD2, In Demand’s high-definition network, and will be available on video-on-demand or pay-per-view.
Farm Aid has changed somewhat since the first concert in the 1980s. Back then “organic” was a new word to many people and not clearly understood. Many of us dreamed of a day when Farm Aid would embrace organics, and they have. In 1997, the concert location was changed to Tinley Park the concert became a whole new experience. With the help of Chicago’s Ed and Sonya Kugler, Bob and Rodney Scaman, and Paul Skirvin of Goodness Greeness, as well as donations of food from numerous organic family farmers, the concert for the first time enjoyed a real organic flavor. Since then, organic companies and farmers have been involved in helping and highlighting Farm Aid.

Chicago’s Goodness Greeness is proud to assist Farm Aid and has been involved in doing so since 1997. Farm Aid’s board—including Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews (pictured above with other board members)—strongly support America’s family farms, organic or not, with their hearts, minds, and music. The organic community is proud to support and be supported by Farm Aid.

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Cissy Bowman is an organic certifier and manages Hoosier Organic Marketing Education, a nonprofit organization (317-539-4317 or [email protected]).

See other articles from this issue: #121 November - December - 2005