Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to watch the concert - live!

MattThere's no doubt that the best way to experience live music is to be there in person, but while over 20,000 music fans will be celebrating family farmers and enjoying performances by our excellent lineup, not everyone can make it to St. Louis. Luckily there are a few ways to enjoy the show live from your home (or even the office - we won't tell your boss!).

Live on DIRECTV
DIRECTV's The 101 Network will be broadcasting Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic live in HD, commercial-free, and in surround sound. The show starts at 5pm EDT on Sunday, October 4.

Live on FarmAid.org's Webcast brought to you by EternaGreen™
We'll be playing the concert live on FarmAid.org starting at 5pm EDT on Sunday, October 4. We'll also be featuring exclusive photos from the show and featuring your comments from Twitter on our webcast page.

Live on Sirius XM Radio
Sirius XM Radio will broadcast the concert live starting at 2pm EDT on Sunday, October 4. Tune into Willie's Place, Sirius Channel 64 or XM Channel 13, to hear the show!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A wonderful night at the New England Dinner to Benefit Farm Aid

KariFarm Aid and New Hope Natural Media partnered to bring lucky family farmer supporters “A New England Dinner to Benefit Farm Aid” this past Wednesday, September 23. The Lighthouse at the Seaport Hotel along Boston’s harbor provided a beautiful setting. We featured quintessential New England fare from family farmers, including local turkey and ham, New England clam chowder, pasta with nutmeg cream, wild mushrooms and other tummy-pleasing fare! We were thrilled to have Jesse Dee and his band perform as well – even after all that food, people still couldn’t help themselves but dance. Jesse is an Arlington, Massachusetts native and will be opening for Al Green at the Boston House of Blues on October 15.

The dinner served as a kick-off party for Expo East, the largest natural and organic products tradeshow on the east coast. Farm Aid works to promote the Good Food Movement, meaning we want to increase the number of Americans reaching for and demanding family farm-identified, local, organic or humanely-raised food. Many of the companies exhibiting at Expo East share these goals, so it’s a natural fit for us. Farm Aid builds connections between farmers and consumers, creating new opportunities for family farmers, whether it be selling at the farmers market or to a small company that needs family farmed-food for its natural products.

If you missed the event this year, plan to join us next fall! We’re excited to have a new annual event in our hometown.

We’ve got a full week ahead of us. If you haven’t registered for our events in St. Louis, sign up now!

On Friday, October 2, Overlook Farm in the City is hosting Farm Aid at the “Farm Meets Fork” benefit. Twelve of St. Louis’ finest chefs will be present to have a cook off with local farmers. The Pernikoff Brothers will be performing at the beautiful venue in the Central West End.

On Saturday, October 3, the 7 Smart Fellers will be entertaining Farm Aid’s family and friends at Farm Aid Eve. Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop is a historic location and not to be missed while you are in town for the concert.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Family farmers to meet (and greet!) in St Louis

HildeEvery year, come concert time, family farmers and farm group advocates join together before the show to talk shop, compare notes and vision for the future. This year, with the help of Rhonda Perry and Tim Gibbons of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a closed farmer meeting will be taking place Saturday, October 3rd, at the First Presbyterian Church in St Louis. Farmers from as far as Texas and New York will gather with Missouri farmers to organize around competition and concentration issues in agriculture and discuss options for ensuring accessible and adequate credit.

Following the meeting will be a farmer greeting – in which the public is invited to join the group for a panel presentation on the challenges and opportunities facing family farm agriculture. Speakers include Missouri Senator Wes Shoemyer, Wisconsin dairy farmer Joel Greeno, Montana cattle rancher Gilles Stockton, and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition executive director, Aimee Witteman, among many others. If you are in St. Louis for the show, please stop by the First Presbyterian Church on Delmar Blvd at 5:00 pm to learn about how you can use your voice to push for a vibrant family farm food system that builds thriving rural economies, strong communities, a healthy environment and supports sustainably raised food from family farms.

Helping to bring family farmers and the public together is just one more way Farm Aid works to advance the good food movement and see that farmers thrive.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Farm Fresh Pics – We have two winners!

MattWith more than 650 photos entered and 14,636 votes cast, the Farm Fresh Pics photo contest was an amazing success. Thank you to everyone who uploaded beautiful pictures of farms, families and food — and to everyone who voted for their favorite Pics!

We're very pleased to announce the winners of the Farm Fresh Pics contest. The Grand Prize Winner is Linda B. from Erie, Colorado. Her “Willie Doll at the San Francisco Farmer’s Market” photo received 2,420 votes, meaning she’ll enjoy a trip to St. Louis and front row tickets for Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic!

It was a tough job, but our Farm Fresh Pics judges, including Willie Nelson, Jason Mraz, Elaine Irwin Mellencamp, photographer Paul Natkin and Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar picked “Generations of Life and Land” as the photo that best celebrates America's family farms in our judged category. Winner Bob F. of St. Bonifacious, Minnesota will receive an installation and a year of DIRECTV service (the perfect way to enjoy upcoming Farm Aid specials on DIRECTV).

Our top seven honorable mention photographers each received a fabulous VIP gift bag and hundreds of others won prizes including Farm Aid bumper stickers, concert T-shirts, and more.

We were blown away by the stunning photos entered in the contest and the passion supporters expressed for America's tradition of family farmers. Please take a few moments to browse through all the wonderful entries at the Farm Fresh Pics site.

And thanks again to everyone who submitted photos and voted for their favorites — your support will help us continue to stand up for family farmers all year long.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Conservation Stewardship Program

AliciaOne of the most important services farmers provide is the careful, skillful stewardship of the land. I have had the privilege of talking to farmers from all over the country, and am continuously astounded by their keen knowledge of the natural resources they manage. So, I think it's relevant to highlight a great new federal farm program called the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Let me tell you, I'm a fan!

The CSP is designed to protect and improve the environmental quality of lands that are currently being worked by our farmers, and so is designated a "working lands" program. It rewards farmers with payments and technical assistance to create or maintain on-farm environmental management schemes. Several other federal farm programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program, require that farmers and ranchers let their fields lie fallow in order to receive payments.

There are a number of features to the Conservation Stewardship Program's design that make it a better, easier-to-access program than the Conservation Security Program it replaced. (Same acronym, new name - confusing, I know).

Under the new CSP, farmers will be rewarded for tackling a number of issues: soil, water and air quality, watershed management, climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration, biodiversity, habitat preservation, pollinator preservation (go bees!), energy conservation, and much more.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) provides an excellent overview of the program. I encourage you to take a look to better understand how USDA supports farmers and ranchers in their land stewardship endeavors.

For all you farmer readers, the September 30th deadline for the first round of signups is coming up fast. Farmers interested in the program can access NSAC's "Farmers' Guide to the New Conservation Stewardship Program" as a PDF file here.

Congress has offered enough funding to enroll nearly 13 million acres in the CSP each year. It's an exciting, new commitment to conservation at the federal level that will benefit the health of our land, our food and, well, us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Concert Updates: 18 Days to Go!

MattFarm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic will be hitting St. Louis in just a little over two weeks. Any of you stragglers out there should know that you there are a very limited number of tickets available from Live Nation.

We'd really love for everyone to be able to join us, but we know not everyone can make the trip for October 4. Luckily, you can still watch all the action on DIRECTV's The 101 Network. Just like last year, it'll be broadcast live in HD with surround sound! The show starts at 4pm and runs for six hours.

If you're not a DIRECTV subscriber, or would rather watch the concert on your computer, we'll also be showing a live webcast presented by EternaGreen™ on our website. There, you'll also find blog posts about all the sights and sounds from the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and exclusive Farm Aid photos.

If you're in the St. Louis area tonight, you can dine out to support Farm Aid! Click here for a list of participating restaurants. And if you'll be in town closer to the concert, check out these other events where you can get in the Farm Aid spirit with great music and family-farmed food.

We'll be announcing more artists in the coming days — stay tuned!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Howdy from Alicia, the Newbie!

AliciaIt may sound corny, but working for Farm Aid has long been a dream of mine. Admittedly, this desire sprung from the self-serving idea that it would be the coolest thing on earth to work for an organization where Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews sit on the Board of Directors. Willie Nelson as my boss? How cool! My friends used to chuckle at me when I told them this, forcing me to acknowledge my (sometimes serious) music addiction.

How lucky I feel today to chuckle back and introduce myself as Farm Aid’s new Program Manager. Cross that one off the "bucket list."

To be fair, my love affair with this organization goes far deeper (no offense, Willie). Like so many of us, I grew up in an area that is slowly losing farmland and open space to development. As a child, I lamented the beautiful landscapes in my part of Pennsylvania that gave way to strip malls and mega stores. Bye-bye, scenic pastures with roaming dairy cattle. So long, strawberry farm across the creek behind my house. Hello, parking lot.

Not surprisingly, I acquired a strong interest in agriculture and working to save family farmers over the years (so much so that I actually got a graduate degree in the topic). I could go on for eons about why I think Farm Aid's mission is so important, but suffice it to say that for me, it resonates pretty deeply.

Readers, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I'm looking forward to many more blog posts and a continuous dialogue with you and all those concerned about helping our family farms and growing the Good Food Movement. In the meantime, feel free to contact me at Alicia@farmaid.org.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Farm Aid's Response to the Texas Drought

JoelWith the concert just around the corner, Farm Aid staff has been working in overdrive to pull together the best benefit event we can. But that doesn't mean our good work to keep family farmers on the land takes a back seat. Thanks to the generous support of a Farm Aid donor, we have some exciting news to share regarding recent emergency relief efforts in drought-affected Texas.

In early August, Farm Aid received a very generous gift earmarked to battle extreme drought in Texas. Yes, everything's big in Texas, but the three-year drought there has been a bone-drying monster. According to one report, "[n]early 80 of Texas' 254 counties are in 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought, the worst possible levels on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's index. Though other states are experiencing drought, no counties in the continental U.S. outside Texas currently register worse than 'severe'." Central and south Texas are the hardest hit areas, with the drying up of Austin's spring-fed Barton Creek Pool typical of what's happening in those regions.

Set in motion by our supporter's generous gift, Farm Aid's response has been to organize on-the-ground help to disperse emergency funds to the hardest-hit farmers and ranchers. To this end, Farm Aid granted $35,000 to four Texas organizations. One of those Texas groups is Lutheran Social Services of the South, whose long record of cooperation with Farm Aid includes help last year after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike blasted into the Gulf Coast in early fall. Thirty thousand dollars in additional funds from the same donor will be used to support long-term drought mitigation and farm sustainability projects for Texas producers.

In addition, because we know that sustainable and organic producers often have little or no access to crop insurance and suffer disproportionately when natural disaster strikes, we sought and secured the cooperation of both The Sustainable Food Center and the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Finally, we are very pleased to include the Texas-Mexico Border Coalition in this relief effort. Their participation will ensure that Hispanic growers in drought-stricken counties along the border will receive relief.

These Texas groups have already begun to tap their producer networks to get the word out about the availability of Farm Aid drought relief funds. If you know a farmer or rancher in Texas who has been hard-hit by drought, urge them to contact one of these organizations to apply for assistance. Or have them call us at 1-800-FARM-AID or email farmhelp@farmaid.org and we will direct them to the help they need.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Stop the Taxpayer Giveaway to Factory Farms

Mattfactory farm pigsDid you know that you're a supporter of factory farms? You may not want to support factory farms, but if you pay taxes in America, your money goes to fund new and bigger factory farms. These industrialized operations churn out so much livestock that it floods the market and lowers the prices paid to family farmers, forcing them out of business. Between 1985 and 2007, the U.S. lost over 80% of our hog farms (going from 388,570 in 1985 to 73,150 in 2007), while the number of hogs kept on those farms skyrocketed from 117 to 835 (with some large factory farms, like the one Joel photographed, housing up to 50,000 hogs). For more information on the damage factory farms do to the environment, our health, and family farmers, see our fact sheet.

What can you do to help? Join the more than 3,000 others that have already signed our petition demanding an end to government policies that give taxpayer money to these destructive factory farms.