Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc.The 27th annual Farm Aid festival took place Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 30,000 fans at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The event featured the usual headlining performances by the charity's co-founders Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson, as well as by longtime board member Dave Matthews.
During a press conference with reporters on Saturday, Mellencamp said that while Farm Aid has done a lot of good helping independent, family-run farms throughout the U.S. over the years, their mission is far from over. “I still live in Indiana and I see things getting not a lot better, actually,” noted the singer. “I see a lot of people losing farms all the time, and this factory farming business has really got a choke-hold on us, the community. It’s just amazing to me that some of these places that you go to buy hamburgers, there’ll be like, maybe, 9 or 10 cows in one hamburger and the meat can be ten years old.”
Young added that farmers need to be proactive and band together to rally against the factory farming industry. “Somebody sitting in their house at night wondering what they can do has got to take the reigns and bring their community together, and bring it together with other communities, so the farmers all have a big voice,” he explained. “Right now, even though we have a lot of great organizations, we really need to get much more organized.”
In a press conference on Nelson’s bus, the country legend commented on the dwindling number of family farmers in the U.S. and that more support for Farm Aid is needed. “Unfortunately, we used to have eight million small family farmers, now we’re down to less than two million, losing several hundred every week,” said Nelson. “A lot of artists, a lot of people up and down the highway know the problem and they support Farm Aid and have for 27 years. It’s too bad that we have to do it, but I’m glad we still have people willing to do it.”
Other artists that took the stage at this year’s edition of the event included Neil's wife, Pegi Young, and her group The Survivors; Willie's son Lukas Nelson and his band Promise of the Real; country stars Kenny Chesney and Jamey Johnson; Grace Potter & the Nocturnals; Jack Johnson; and ALO.
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