More than 23,000 people gathered for the 15th annual Farm Aid benefit concert Sept. 21 in Burgettstown, Pa. Beyond supporting America's farmers, Farm Aid organizers made a point of promoting organics this year. The one-day event featured numerous organics endorsements. Farm Aid co-founder and board member Neil Young asked consumers to support organics, saying, "Attention shoppers, attention shoppers, buy with a conscience and save the family farm." Young also urged consumers to buy organic food direct from farmers and from natural foods stores.
At the Farm Aid press conference, Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Organic Farming Research Foundation, sat on a panel with Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Kid Rock, plus union and small-farm leaders.
"We have the power to fight back," Scowcroft said. "'No' to factory farms. 'No' to environmental pollution. 'No' to GMOs. 'Yes' to family farmers. 'Yes' to social justice. 'Yes' to organic agriculture. To every consumer in the land, now is the time to stand and be counted. We won't back down. Neither should you." Scowcroft received a standing ovation led by Young for his speech.
Almost half of the 13 Farm Aid sponsors were organics and naturals companies, including Allegro Coffee, Earthbound Farm, Natural Touch, Organic Valley, Quality Assurance International and Whole Foods Market. According to the Farm Aid Associate Director Glenda Yoder, "We have had [the organic industry's] support in the past, but this year we made a concerted effort to reach out to organic companies with sponsorship packages."
Young, Nelson and Mellencamp founded Farm Aid in 1985 to raise money for and awareness of small-farm issues. Since its inception, Farm Aid has given more than $24 million to more than 100 family-farm organizations throughout the United States. The organizations Farm Aid supports have helped thousands of family farms stay in business. Farm Aid gives annual grants to OFRF in support of organic farming research projects.
Scott Silverman is New Hope Natural Media's organic program manager and can be reached at [email protected]
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 11/p. 7