Some of the farm folks at Willie Nelson's Friday night concert in Aberdeen, Maryland, were scanning the stands, not the stage, for a star attraction: Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The Secretary and his wife Christie came out from D.C. for the concert, but before they took in the music, they met with Willie Nelson backstage to talk about family farmers.
Willie and the Secretary discussed the opportunities for Farm Aid and the USDA to work together to strengthen family farm agriculture in the United States. Willie and the Secretary spoke in particular about the need to help dairy farmers, the economic stimulus potential of family farmers, and the need to build and improve infrastructure for family farm-product processing and distribution systems across the country.
Both Willie and Vilsack agreed there is a lot opportunity for the USDA and Farm Aid—and other food and farm groups nationwide—to work together. They arranged for future conversation because Willie got his stagecall and the show had to go on! So Willie went onstage and the Secretary and Mrs. Vilsack braved the threatening skies to hear some terrific music from an all-star team of Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan.
Farm Aid is very pleased to have these opportunities to meet with top policymakers like the Secretary of Agriculture—they represent an open door and listening ear that we have rarely had since our beginnings in 1985. (And we're also always pleased to have a reason to catch a Willie concert!)